Prices lead to imminent sheep thefts

Record high livestock prices have lead to notable sheep thefts across the state with one Eyre Peninsula farmer saying it is only a matter of time before sheep are stolen in the region. 

This year has already seen multiple reports of sheep losses in the mid-north and Yorke Peninsula region.

Livestock SA board member and Sheringa sheep farmer Bill Nosworthy said most sheep farmers only brought in their flocks three to four times a year and that was when they noticed missing sheep. 

“I think we'll find in October most people will be done shearing and that's when we might start to hear about losses.”

He said sheep were now high value products making them very attractive to thieves.

“If they're a ewe, you're potentially losing $200 to $250 worth per sheep, so it doesn't take a lot to add up to an awful lot of money... and on a small operation it might be the entire profit margin for that year.”

Mr Nosworthy said one of the biggest issues with tracing stock losses was the lack of the requirement to brand sheep since the Brands Act 1933 was repealed January 2016.

Livestock SA, with the help of the state government, developed its own branding app for producers to register brands and earmarks, and better assist producers identify a brand, and find or report a lost animal.

“I'd like to see people encouraged to make use of the app so if they do have sheep missing, they can put up a lost notice.

“In all seriousness, when worked properly, it's going to be one of the most useful tools in livestock traceability and the possibility of using it as a legal tool is there too.” 

SA Police responded to the rise in livestock theft across the state on Wednesday, announcing a new training initiative to reinvigorate the focus of Operation Poach, a program introduced in 2011 to monitor rural crime involving commercial livestock theft.

Anyone who has any information that may assist police in relation to livestock theft is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at crimestopperssa.com.au.