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Livestock Disturbance and Theft

Following incidents of livestock thefts in the Aberdeenshire area over recent months, below are some reminders of security measures that could help reduce this:

Livestock disturbance is sadly an all too familiar problem for the majority of farmers, with both criminal and public disturbances having a detrimental effect on business. Insurance may often cover the cost of treating or replacing injured or stolen animals, but the effect on breeding programs can take years to overcome. The following can help protect livestock:

Protecting Your Farm Perimeter

  • Reduce access by removing all gates and entrances that are no longer in use and replacing them with a permanent fence or other barrier.
  • Secure all gates with good padlocks. 16mm chain link will stop most thieves and closed shackle padlocks make it relatively difficult to get bolt cutters on to the shackle.
  • Repair fencing promptly to prevent/restrict any future unauthorised access.

Protecting Your Livestock

  • Check the security of boundary fencing/hedging and make regular checks of fields where animals are kept to ensure fences are not breached.
  • Use ear tags, forensic keel paint, horn brands, freeze marking or tattooing to make animals more easily identifiable.
  • Take photographs of particularly valuable animals.
  • Ensure you take a regular count of livestock numbers.
  • Keep all documentation and stock movement books in a secure location away from areas where the stocks are kept.
  • Wrap and mark bales of haylage, bedding and feed.
  • Report all suspicious activity involving livestock to the police.
  • Install signs, warnings and notices that warn potential walkers to keep their dogs on a leash.


With theft in rural areas on the increase it comes as no surprise to find more farmers turning to CCTV systems to protect their property and livestock.

CCTV is a useful tool but it must be remembered that CCTV on its own is not a deterrent to criminality and should always be combined with appropriate physical security.

Strategically placed CCTV cameras can capture clear images of any intruders to your property. In the event that would-be thieves target your farm, wireless and hardwired systems can provide ‘live’ alerts to mobile devices from anywhere with an internet connection. Cameras are also available that are battery powered and can work off the 4-G network so no need for power or wifi - some operate with a 'roaming' SIM so they will pick up whatever network is available. These can be used in remote locations and placed inside vehicles that have been left in remote locations overnight (combine harvesters).

In addition to the security implications of having your premises protected from intruders, farm CCTV can be used to monitor livestock during crucial times such as lambing, calving, and foaling.

Suspicious Callers

Beware of any suspicious callers – strangers may not always be what they seem. Check their identity and if in doubt, note their description and any vehicle they may be using and call the police. Your call may be important and save others from the opportunist thief.

Original mesage sent by Heather Nelson (Police, Constable, Crime Reduction, North East Division)

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