Galway sheep farmer John Higgins suspects thieves of stealing 35 in-lamb ewes and three lambs on 30 January, the same day he celebrated his retirement from farming.
“We have decided to offer a €1,000 reward to anyone who can offer us information that will lead to the recovery of the ewes,” Higgins told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“Hopefully the reward will act as an incentive, leading to someone with information relating to the theft coming forward and helping us.”
The Tuam farmer was on a Zoom call with family celebrating his retirement from farming on the day of the theft and didn’t check the ewes until late evening.
“The ewes were on an out farm just a mile and a half from he house. When I arrived to the field they were gone. A mix of mule and Suffolk crosses, I estimate they are worth almost €9,000 in total.”
Higgins reported the theft to Gardaí in Galway following an unsuccessful search of surrounding farmland.
“I have everyone I know looking out for them. They definitely didn’t go missing because if they had then they would have been found by now," Higgins said.
“I started out with 20 ewes and built my flock up to 300. Through farming I’ve built a house and sent all my children to college. We never had anything like this happen before. It’s such a shame for this to come as I leave the profession.”
Higgins has called on the IFA to push for the requirement to have all sheep electronically chipped, in addition to ear tagging.
“I will be pressing the IFA to get sheep chipping as a requirement, just like in dogs and horses.
“This way, at least when the tags are cut out you’d still have a way of proving you own the sheep. Tags aren’t effective enough on their own.
“I won’t be letting these sheep go easy. I’ll comb them out myself if it comes to that.
“The people who stole them will lay low for the minute, but you can be sure they will resurface soon. This has to be sorted, you can’t let them away with it,” Higgins concluded.