A Kerry farmer is offering a reward of €1,000 for any information that leads to the recovery of 45 ewes believed to be stolen.

The 45 Scotch ewes were part of a 400-ewe flock grazing an open commonage called the Comh, Bailelochaigh, on Mount Brandon.

Flock owner Michael Joe O’Shea and his brother-in-law Paddy Hanafin realised the ewes were missing when the flock was moved down from the hill commonage to the home farm on lower ground in recent days for lambing.

The pair has offered a €1,000 reward for any information leading to the recovery of the missing sheep, which they believe were stolen from the mountain over the winter period.

“Someone might see something or say something,” O’Shea told the Irish Farmers Journal. “It would be nice to catch them.”

All the ewes are tagged in their right ear, as well as being marked with blue paint on their head, red on their loins and blue on the hindquarter.

Each ewe has also been ear-notched on the right ear, making them identifiable even if their tags were removed.

“When we counted the sheep last Friday, we were missing 49 ewes but we have allowed for some deaths. We reported 45 sheep missing to the gardaí in Dingle,” explained Hanafin, who has estimated the each missing ewe is worth €1,000.

The missing sheep are all Scotch ewes aged two to four years old and in lamb to a Scotch ram.

The flock was moved to up onto the hill just prior to Christmas and then gathered up last week to lamb down on O’Shea’s lowland farm.

Hanafin believes that sheep have been stolen from the hill before.

“We had sheep go missing off the hill last year too but Michael Joe put it down to bad weather and losses on the cliffs,” explained Hanafin. “But this year we had no frost or snow so there should be almost no losses.”

We combed the hill all day on Sunday and Monday with dogs but we didn’t find any sheep

He continued: “Myself, Michael Joe and a neighbour combed the hill all day on Sunday and Monday with dogs but we didn’t find any sheep anywhere.”

Garda Jim Cremins from Dingle Garda Station confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that the sheep had been reported missing by Hanafin and that he had notified the Department of Agriculture.

“Forty-five ewes seems to be a very large number to be missing. The Department of Agriculture will check it out but it appears they could be stolen,” said Garda Cremins.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Paddy Hanafin on 086-295 6177 and Dingle Garda Station on 066-915 3851.