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.”