North-east farmers have been urged to keep an eye on their flocks after 19 pregnant sheep were stolen from a farm near Fordyce.
The ewes were taken from a field between Saturday, December 5 and Friday January 22, with police investigating the crime.
It is understood the theft was planned, as the culprits needed to use vehicles and specialist equipment to transport the animals from the area.
The incident has been slammed as “nasty” and “bad” by NFU Scotland Vice-President Charlie Adam, who urged farmers to look out for suspicious activity.
Mr Adam, who also operates a farm in Alford, called the theft “very upsetting.”
He said: “I think livestock theft has been on the increase recently although it’s not quite a frequent occurrence.
“From a farmer’s point of view, this is very upsetting as it was obviously planned as they would need specialist equipment to herd the sheep into a vehicle.
“Because of the tracking system livestock have, it could be that the animals are slaughtered illegally, which would be really bad to see.
“However, if they were stolen to be lambed, then it makes the crime very nasty as it means another farmer has been involved which I don’t like the idea of.
“Farmers should be taking steps to check on their livestock as much as they can, and also keep an eye on their neighbours and report any suspicious activity.”
The stolen flock were English Mules, and are valued at about £3,000.
According to the police, the theft occurred at Berryleas, near Fordyce.
Mr Adam described how the theft would have been traumatic for the sheep and could have caused them to lose their lambs.
He said: “Ewes are likely to be pregnant around about now, so from an animal welfare point of view the theft would have been traumatic for them.
“Someone strange rounding and herding them up could lead to them losing their lambs and abortions which isn’t a good thing.
“Sheep are easily spooked, especially if there is a dog running about.
“If anyone has any information about this, or saw anything suspicious they should report it to the police or NFU Scotland.
“The more eyes on this the better, with farmers needing to look out for each other.”
THEFT OF SHEEPA theft of 19 pregnant ewes, the breed being English Mules, valued about £3000, occurred between…
Police also appealed for help in tracking down the missing sheep.
A spokesman said: “I would urge people to be extra vigilant and take measures and precautions to protect your property.
“We take every opportunity to share knowledge and information with officers across the force area to minimise and prevent the number of crimes that take place.”
A sheep worth more than £2500 went missing from a farm near Cawdor last month.
The single Beltex pedigree sheep disappeared between January 6 and January 9.
Lorna Paterson, NFU Scotland north-east regional manager, added: “The emotional losses are horrific in these situations, and when animals are stolen their owners are equally traumatised.
“I would encourage farmers to use signage wherever possible to signify the use of CCTV, or even highlight the fact that there is neighbourhood surveillance in use, as this may act as a deterrent.
“In February 2020 we hosted two on-farm rural crime prevention events at Steelstrath, Edzell, and Balwearie Farm, Muir of Fowlis.
“As soon as Covid restrictions permit we are planning to organise more events up here in Aberdeenshire, in partnership with local police, fire brigade and security companies.
“Our members deserve to have access to the best information on the simple tools and ideas available to protect against these mindless criminals.”