A Co. Mayo farmer has said that the theft of sheep handling equipment and a trailer from his yard has been “devastating”.

Around 1:00a.m on Monday, January 3, John McHale realised that his property at Coolcronan, close to Knockmore village, had been targeted.

“I noticed the gates into the yard were flung open, I came in and discovered that basically the whole yard was gone. The handling unit probably took up most of the yard.

“There were sheep running all over the yard when I arrived; they could have gone out on the road [N26] and possibly caused an accident,” McHale told Agriland.

The farmer believes the theft occurred between 7:00p.m on Sunday, January 2 and 1:00a.m on Monday (January 3).

Sheep Equipment

McHale said that the stolen equipment was “distinctive and very expensive”; a trailer parked in the yard was also taken.

“It was quite an extensive sheep handling set-up manufactured by Ritchie in Scotland. I’d been gathering it up over 10 years. I’d be adding bits to it now and again,” he said.

Among the items stolen from the yard were:

  • Nugent 8ft x 4ft trailer with mesh sides and tailboard;
  • Ritchie sheep handling unit of gates, dividers, foothbaths, race and pens;
  • Ritchie digital weighing scales;
  • Stihl RC 162 power washer;
  • Fencing tools.

The farmer said that the theft has had a huge impact on his work:

“You can’t do anything without it, the whole yard is bare and it’s impossible to do anything. I’ve been trying to do some work all morning; you can’t put the sheep in or out.

“The handling unit is as important to a sheep farmer as the milking parlour is to a dairy farmer.

“It’s a lot more than an inconvenience, it’s devastating really. There’s a lot of work gone into gathering up this stuff, it’s all gone now. It’s a fair blow,” McHale said.


The farmer said that once the equipment was dismantled it was loaded into his trailer and driven through Knockmore.

McHale said the vehicle believed to have been used in the incident, a short wheelbase (SWB) blue Ford Transit, was caught on CCTV cameras in the village.

Source: John McHale

The sheep farmer believes that the equipment will most likely be offered for sale in sections, rather than a single unit.

McHale, who has thanked locals for their support following the theft, has appealed for anyone with information to contact An Garda Síochána in Ballina, who are investigating the incident, on: 096 20560.