Black market meat warning as thieves steal livestock worth £3m

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Thieves have stolen livestock worth £3 million in the last year, with some animals butchered in farmers’ fields and the meat then sold on the black market.

Large-scale sheep thefts, where rustlers steal between 50 and 100 animals in a single raid, have contributed to the spike, according to statistics released by NFU Mutual.


Livestock theft claims have jumped 19.4 per cent since 2017, making it one of the costliest crimes to the farming sector, along with agricultural vehicle and machinery theft.


The Mutual’s rural affairs specialist Rebecca Davidson said: “Rustlers are getting more skilled and organised, quickly loading sheep onto trailers and lorries late at night.


“We are concerned that gangs are now using working sheepdogs, which have also been stolen, to get the job done.”

Illegal slaughter


Ms Davidson said one of the most ‘alarming’ trends was the illegal slaughter of animals in the field.


“We believe that meat from stolen animals is being sold on the black market and undermining welfare standards,” she added.


“Meat which has been butchered in unhygienic conditions, and may be from animals which have had medical treatment, poses a real threat to human health.”



Olivia Midgley

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