Prevent livestock theft, vandalism

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers has received numerous reports of stolen livestock and other reports of farm vandalism across the state in recent months. CSIF recommends livestock farmers be cautious and aware of suspicious people or vehicles near their farms.

The vandalism included damage to office equipment, smashed computers, destroyed records, and broken vaccine bottles and waterlines.

The National Pork Producers Council has also noted increased concern about criminal activity on livestock farms. NPPC hosted a session to address the topic during the 2011 World Pork Expo in Des Moines earlier this summer.

Key Points

Livestock theft and vandalism are on the increase, so take precautions.

Farmers need to think about security measures they have or don’t have.

CSIF has information and suggestions to help protect livestock and facilities.

Kent Mowrer, CSIF field specialist, talked about recent examples of vandalism and theft on livestock farms, and offered prevention tips and strategies livestock producers can use to better secure their farm.

Dave Struthers, a livestock farmer from Story County, Iowa, who personally dealt with a case of vandalism in 2008, joined Mowrer on the panel. Struthers offered insight from his encounter with vandals and shared his thoughts how to effectively work with law enforcement and local media.

Is your farm a target?

If you don’t take precautions, your facilities and livestock will be an easy target. “Most people like to think they’ll never be the target, but no one can assume they are safe,” says Mowrer. “As livestock prices have risen, every farmer should take time to think about the security measures they have — or don’t have — in place.”

CSIF, NPPC and law enforcement officials encourage farmers to be proactive even if they aren’t aware of any criminal activity in their neighborhood. Mowrer and Struthers suggest producers visit CSIF’s website,, for suggestions on how to better secure their livestock farms and facilities, as well as what to do if you are the victim of a criminal act.

CSIF tracks these incidents, and there have been more reports of livestock vandalism in the past few years. Also, thefts have increased as cattle and hog prices have improved over the past year.

“One trend we’ve seen is in the theft of hogs,” says Mowrer. It’s happening maybe 15 or 20 head at a time. One pig out of a pen is stolen from a building that has 10 or 15 pens, for example. Producers aren’t noticing the missing pigs until they are selling the pens. Then they realize they are coming up short a pig or two in each pen in the building.

“The vandalism we are seeing is not happening when the livestock are getting stolen,” says Mowrer. “And the vandals aren’t hurting the animals. But certainly there is serious damage being caused by vandalism. Smashed computers and shattered vaccine bottles are a real cost to the farmer that adds up quickly.”

What producers can do

More producers should take preventive and precautionary steps, says Struthers. Some are using security cameras on their premises. Surveillance system cameras have come down in price in recent years and can do a great job of getting license plate numbers on vehicles that pull onto a farm or livestock facility site. Or, you can put the cameras in buildings and get a picture of the people coming into the facility, he notes.

Security lighting helps. Consider installing additional yard lights, putting a padlock on the farm gate and locking the doors of buildings. “Just batten down the hatches to make it a little tougher for vandals to get in,” advises Struthers.

Cattle thefts have also risen with higher prices. “There is more value out there enticing thieves to take the risk,” says Mowrer. “We’re advising cattle farmers to be extra vigilant. Count your calves more often than you usually do. Put a chain and padlock on the farm gate or pasture gate that has access to cattle.”

Also, vary your routine. If you go to a pasture every morning at 7 a.m. to feed and check cows, it’s easy for a thief to watch and get your schedule, he notes. So vary your timing and visit that pasture or livestock facility at other times of the day, too. And work with your neighbors, much like a neighborhood watch program, with everyone keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity in the area.

“If you have questions or need answers about how to prevent theft and keep vandals off your farm, visit our website or call us,” says Mowrer.

Source: CSIF

This article published in the September, 2011 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.