Stuart and Marg McPhee, have had more than 80 cattle stolen from their Swan Creek property.
Stuart and Marg McPhee, have had more than 80 cattle stolen from their Swan Creek property.

Cattle rustling alive

FOR most people the notion of cattle rustling or “duffing,” is something confined to stories of the old West – unfortunately, it’s an all-too-real fact of life for Swan Creek couple Stuart and Marg McPhee, who have had over 80 cattle stolen in the past 17 years.

The couple’s 121-acre Hereford Stud appears to be an attractive target for cattle thieves, despite the best efforts of Mr McPhee, who often keeps a silent vigil in the paddocks at night, trying to catch the “duffers” in the act.

“You just never know when it’s going to happen; we’ve had 81 pinched in the last 17 years,” Mr McPhee said.

“They just back a horse float up to the fence and drop the flap.

“Our cattle are quiet, easily-handled, so the thieves cut wires in fences and just drive off with them.

“I’ve sat out in the freezing cold for eight to 10 nights at a time you know, but sure as eggs, when you’re not there, that’s when it happens.”

Mr McPhee said the couple would be well over $100,000 out of pocket from the thefts, the latest of which occurred last year when calves were stolen from their property along with a number from a neighbouring property.

Recently the couple erected signs in the paddock, warning that the cattle were micro-chipped and traceable, which Mr McPhee said had reduced the incidence of theft, however with cattle prices booming, he suspected it would only be a matter of time before they became a target again.

“It’s about time they brought in decent money (for cattle), but as a result of that, I daresay there are more thefts in store for us.”



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