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Cattle theft costs farmer £250,000 due to TB listing

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 04, 2013

By Mike Smallcombe

Tony Weaving

Tony Weaving stands in the shed from which his cows were stolen

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Cattle rustlers have cost a Cornish farmer an estimated £250,000 after 17 of his Belgium blue cross herd were stolen from his farm in the dead of night.

Farmer Tony Weaving was awoken by the sound of a calf bawling in distress only to discover that 17 of his cattle had been taken – with a further 12 cows in position ready to be loaded on to another trailer.

The incident at Mr Weaving's Penhale Farm at St Tudy could not have come at a worse time as the herd was due to have its tuberculosis (TB) results announced on the day of the incident. As 17 of the herd was absent, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) representatives had to class the entire herd of 250 cattle as TB reactors, significantly reducing their market value.

Mr Weaving is offering a £5,000 reward for information leading to the cattle's safe return.

"This couldn't have happened on a worse night, the total cost of the stolen cattle is about £7,000 but that is not the real cost – this will have huge implications for our sales," he said. "The TB results were due to be read on the day of the incident but because 17 of the cows were absent the whole herd were classed as TB reactors even though they don't have TB.

"Cattle classed as TB reactors can only be sold to restricted farms, meaning their value drops significantly. As it stands they will have to be slaughtered, and we have estimated that this could cost us £250,000.

"One hundred and fifty of the herd were due to be sold in December but that's now fallen through because of the new reactor classifications."

This is not the first time that Mr Weaving's farm has been targeted by criminals – in May 2012, three bullocks were killed on the farm in a series of brutal attacks, with two hit with a hammer and one having its tongue cut off.

Mr Weaving will reward those who can provide information leading to the safe return of the cattle.

He said: "I don't want anybody to testify in court or anything like that, I just want information leading to the safe return of those 17 cows, and for that I am offering a £5,000 reward."

Mr Weaving is hoping that if the 17 cattle are returned the DARD will re-classify the rest of the herd as negative TB reactors, thus lifting the trading restrictions.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Following the theft of 17 cattle from the farm in St Tudy we are seeking information as to the whereabouts of these cattle and who is responsible.

"This is being treated as an isolated incident and we suspect that the Weaving family have been targeted."

Anyone with any information about the incident, which occurred at 2am on November 23, should call police on 101, quoting crime reference number BB/13/1886.

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