Eight cattle worth nearly €12,000 were stolen from a Knockbridge farmer this week as fears rise that an illegal abattoir is operating along the border.
Knockbridge farmer Aidan McDonnell is at a serious financial loss after his cattle were stolen from land at Allardstown between Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
While the thieves managed to get eight cattle, five other cattle escaped and were found in nearby fields.
“It would not have been easy to load them where they were being kept,” said Aidan.
“Four of the cattle stolen were bought in Carnaross mart the day before and cost €1,300 each.
“The other four were just under 30 months and were due to go to the factory that week. They were worth €1,700 each.”
The issue of cattle rustling has become a serious problem across Co Louth.
In June, Anthony Duffy had five bullocks stolen from his land beside Ravensdale graveyard.
Matthew McGreehan, Louth IFA Chairman, is encouraging rural people to be vigilant.
“This is a huge loss to the farmer,” said Matthew, “We are calling on everyone in rural areas to be extremely vigilant.
“If they see any suspicious lorries, jeeps and trailers in the area to write down the number and description and report to the gardaí and notify the farmer.”
Mr McGreehan is also advising farmers to add theft of livestock to their insurance policy, which is only offered by FBD.
The IFA representative believes that the stolen livestock are being taken to an illegal abattoir and the meat being sold on to restaurants.
Mr McGreehan said: “I am calling on all restaurants and people involved in the catering industry to only accept meat from reliable sources and that they know the meat they buy is fully traceable.
“To steal somebody’s livestock has always been viewed as a very serious crime in the farming community. It is the lowest of the low.
“Louth IFA are calling for much greater sanctions to be imposed on anyone caught stealing livestock, messing or tampering with cattle ID tags.
“The multibillion euro beef industry must not be allowed to be damaged in any way by a few criminals.”
Last week, RTE’s Prime Time featured a report into livestock theft.
Gardai figures reveal that 1,979 sheep have been stolen between 2012 and 2014.
Earlier in the month more than 50 animals were seized and impounded in raids on farms along the Border.
The seizures, in Monaghan and Armagh, were part of a major Cross-Border operation to tackle the illegal movement of cattle across the Border.