An appeal for information has been made following the suspected theft of four Friesian heifer calves from land in Co. Sligo over the weekend.

The animals are believed to have been taken from lands at Chaffpool, near Tubbercurry, between Saturday (June 26) and Sunday (June 27), according to the owner of the animals, farmer and agricultural consultant Frank Brennan.

In an appeal for information on the missing animals, Frank said:

“I had 11 calves, (born February/March this year), in a field on the outfarm at Chaffpool. Four of them have been taken overnight.

“All neighbouring land has been searched with no evidence of the animals having broken out of their field. They were very quiet, almost pet animals and were being hand-fed meal so they would not have strayed too far.

“If you hear of anyone buying or selling four weanling Friesian heifer calves or noticed a cattle wagon/trailer on the roads in the locality late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, or if you have any possible information that may lead to their whereabouts or return, please contact me directly on: 083-4386368 or contact Tubbercurry Gardaí,” Brennan said.

In a follow-up message, the farmer and consultant said:

“I just had a call from a man near Claremorris who saw my post on Facebook and he told me that he had four Friesian heifers stolen from his farm overnight as well.

Frank urged farmer to be vigilant, particularly with regards to stock on out-farms.

Speaking to Agriland, Frank said: “I’m the only dairy farmer around this particular area so if there are black and white animals in a field they shouldn’t be in, I’m the first to be rang – but they’ve vanished unfortunately.

“Things are in limbo at the minute. The Gardaí are confident that the animals were stolen out of the field and there’s no evidence of anything broken out anywhere – the fences are all intact, there’s no holes in the hedge or anything – they were lifted out of the field.”

The farmer outlined his suspicions that local knowledge played a part in the matter, noting “it wasn’t a gang of cattle rustlers that happened on them at 3:00a.m from hundreds of miles away that happened to spot them there and then”.

“They were in a fairly secluded spot but they were well secured with good electric fences,” he added.

“I had seen them on Saturday evening at 7:00p.m; I was milking on Sunday morning so my dad said he’d go and give the meal to the calves. He came back as I was finishing the milking and said ‘there’s four of the heifers missing’.

“I wasn’t that concerned at that stage…we went looking for them and spent the next couple of hours walking every square inch of the townland, talked to neighbours, no one had heard or seen anything. They’ve been missing since.”

Frank added that the calves have been DNA traced, so they may show up as being back in the system.

He expressed the hope that, by highlighting the theft of his animals, they may become “too hot to handle” and be returned – like in a similar incident in Co. Tipperary earlier in the year.

Members of An Garda Síochána have confirmed to Agriland that investigations are ongoing into the theft of the heifers and that no arrests have been made at this stage.

Anyone with relevant information can contact Tubbercurry Garda Station on: 071-9185002.

Earlier this year, figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine showed that a total of 987 cattle were reported missing by Irish farmers in 2020, with a further 95 cattle reported stolen.