Farming is a daunting career choice, requiring long hours and an immense work load. This coupled with constant political challenges and weather changes, makes farming an industry like no other. But, farmers love what they do and they are brilliant at it.
There is a certain degree of danger which looms over farming. A dark cloud which threatens to jeopardise a farmer’s livelihood and safety. For farmers who deal with livestock, this threat requires an almost sleepless vigilance.
Just how bad is livestock theft in the Newcastle area?
A farmer, Chad Taggart, explains livestock theft is rife in the Newcastle and Normandien area. “There is a Whatsapp group for farmers in the area and not a week goes past, without someone posting to be on the lookout for stolen animals.”
Taggart has been affected twice by livestock theft. “Last year this time, 15 animals were stolen from my property and last month there were seven animals stolen. It is terrible.”
But, how do farmers safeguard their livestock from theft?
“To date, I haven’t had any issues yet,” another local farmer who wishes to remain anonymous.
With his farm situated on the outskirts of Newcastle, the farmer claims one of the reasons he has not been affected is due to his security measures. “I corral my animals, count them and do spot checks daily.”
He claims he also makes use of a security company to ensure livestock theft is minimised even further.
Volksrust farmer, Gary Lavarack, claims he is also fortunate in not being affected by cattle theft. “I have no issues, but I try to be jacked up with my security.”
In terms of security, Lavarack ensures all the gates on his property are always locked. He also has signs forbidding trespassers and if anyone does trespass, he has them arrested and prosecuted.
“Allowing visitors onto your farm is a risk, whether they are there to see you or your farmworkers. So, it is important to keep this to a minimal. It is also important to avoid selling anything off your farm.”
Lavarack explains that selling produce and other items off your farm, allows strangers to look around your property. “Rather sell your items at a distance from your farm.”
Security does not end here though. “Do counts regularly and repair any broken fences as soon as possible. If I see a stranger standing around outside my property, I stop to see what they want. My staff all have cellphones and phone me if they see any strange people or cars outside my farm.”
This allows potential cattle thieves to see the farmer and his staff are on high alert, as well showing them there is constant activity on the land.
While this assists in minimising the risk of livestock theft, Lavarack admits it becomes difficult for those with a large number of livestock or more than one farm.
“It becomes even more important to count your livestock everyday and check the perimeter fencing. But, you need to ensure your farms and animals are not neglected in anyway. If an animal is stolen, it is just a matter of time and that animal is gone.”
Branding plays an instrumental role in recovering livestock following a theft. Through branding your animals, it makes it easier to identify it. Branding also allows police to be on the lookout for cattle with the respective brands.
Taggart encourages people to be vigilant at night, especially during the full moon. “This is because the full moon offers perpetrators enough light when breaking in.”
Lavarack explains farmers also need to be cautious when employing individuals to assist for small jobs around their farms. “Instead of hiring someone for a week, look at forming a trustworthy team which can assist you and neighbouring farmers. They can help with branding and so on, and it is safer than hiring a stranger for a week because you get to know the team.”
Taking the above-mentioned safety tips is the first step in combating livestock theft. But, what other steps can farmers take to ensure they don’t fall victim to crime? Share your thoughts and opinions with us.