Some 546 cattle were reported missing or stolen during the first six months of 2021, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.
Analysis of Department of Agriculture records has shown that 517 cattle were reported as missing, with 11 having since been recovered.
Meanwhile, 29 cattle were reported as stolen, just one of those having since been recovered. In 2020, a total of 987 cattle were reported as missing and 95 stolen.
A county breakdown highlights particular issues for certain regions.
Wicklow had the highest number of thefts reported, with nine recorded so far this year, followed by Limerick and Kildare with eight and six respectively.
Of the cattle reported missing and stolen in 2021, 332 were beef-bred and 214 were dairy-bred.
Over 56% of the cattle reported missing or stolen were female.
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 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.