A staggering 1,082 cattle were reported missing or stolen during 2020, the Irish Farmers Journal can exclusively reveal.
Analysis of Department of Agriculture records has shown that 987 cattle were reported as missing in the year, with 48 having since been recovered.
Meanwhile, 95 cattle were reported as stolen, with two having since been recovered.
In 2019, a total of 1,077 cattle were reported missing and 41 stolen.
A county breakdown of stolen cattle highlights particular issues for certain regions.
Limerick had the highest number of thefts, with 28 recorded so far this year, followed by Donegal and Laois with 26 and 15 respectively.
Analysis undertaken by the Irish Farmers Journal in 2019 showed that border county Monaghan had the highest 10-year figure, with 375 cattle reported stolen in total. In contrast, new figures show that no incident of cattle theft was reported in that county in 2020.
Of the cattle reported missing and stolen in 2020, 666 were beef-bred and 416 were dairy-bred. There was a nearly equal split between the sexes, with 559 females and 523 males reported missing or stolen.
Animals aged between 12 and 24 months were the most common to have gone missing, with 387 head of cattle recorded in this category.
A spokesperson for the Department said: “When cattle are found to be missing or stolen, the keeper of the animals should notify the appropriate Regional Veterinary Office (RVO) of the event in writing.
“As the theft of livestock is a criminal offence, all incidents of stolen animals should be reported to the An Garda Síochána by the relevant keeper, for investigation.”
The RVO subsequently liaises with the Department’s Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) division in ensuring that the animals are recorded as missing or stolen on the AIM system.