Following a dramatic rise in the number of incidents of sheep rustling in the region over the last fortnight, here are a few guidelines in keeping a flock safe from thieves.
Advice to farmers:
- ensure that your animals are tagged
- boundaries and gates should be kept in good order and wherever possible locked
- put something heavy in front of gates to make life harder for thieves
- don’t leave trailers or anything that can be used to steal/transport the sheep
- don’t leave keys in vehicles, even if they are in your yard
- if you are keeping or rearing animals in barns or out-buildings, make sure that gates and doors are locked
Nearly 500 sheep have been stolen from Somerset farms in the last six weeks in what police say is an "unusual" spike in sheep-rustling.
The thefts include nearly 150 lambs and ewes from near Langport in the middle of the night, nearly 130 from a farm near Baltonsborough and sheep's skins found blocking a land drain in Glastonbury.
Cows are also being targeted, with a cattle lorry from East Huntspill found burnt out in Langport, and cows stolen from a shed in Ilchester.
Farmers are losing tens of thousands of pounds from these thefts, and police say the meat of these animals could be sold illegally. They hope a nationwide appeal for information will help the investigation.