Ballarat agents, with its president James Haddrick pictured, have discussed beefing up security to curb stock theft from the Ballarat saleyards

Saleyards boost security as stockthefttoll rises

The best in a life time prices being received for sheep and lambs are being soured with the repeated theft of livestock from the Ballarat saleyards.

The council-owned and private-leased yards, which has unrestricted access from all sides, offers no patrolled security by its management or the selling agents who hold responsible for the stock until the fall of the auctioneers hammer when ownership and care is transferred to the buyer under the conditions of the livestock sales act.

Ballarat stock agents president James Haddrick says there been at least four incidents this month when sheep have been stolen from the state’s largest saleyards.

One of the earlier thefts he said involved 79 crossbred lambs stolen overnight before the weekly Tuesday market three weeks ago.

The value of these stock according the affected agent was in the order of $12,000 which the agent made good the payment to the vendor.

Another loss occurred a week later and involved 30 lambs missing from their delivery yard while awaiting pick-up and transfer to a Kyneton abattoir. These were valued at $4500 while a third incident saw 17 Suffolk-cross ewes, 47 ewe lambs and 20 Fits-cross ewes all taken from the Crossbred ewe sale.

Mr Haddrick said while these thefts have occurred from within the saleyard, there were numerous reports beginning to surface of missing livestock stolen from the greater surrounding area.

One east of Ballarat farmer, who estimates a loss of 200 crossbred lambs, said he only became aware of his losses when a neighbour reported missing 60 crossbred ewes.

Another neighbour reports he became aware of an attempt on his stud flock when a gate was found off its hinges and unexplained tire marks were discovered in a paddock where sheep had only been moved.

“We were obviously observed moving the stock and became a target,” he said.

Another area that seems fair game is the Lismore, Skipton and Berrybank district. While there are reports of some mobs coming up 150 head short of their shearing count there are plenty of incidents where people have acknowledged mob discrepancies of 30-50 head.

"It's a bit of a thing that is happening at the moment as strong prices mean every sheep or lamb being stolen is worth more than $150 per head,” Mr Haddrick said.

“The thieves are clearly not opportunists. They appear to be people who intimately understand the layout and operation of the saleyards, or the movement of farmers especially around paddocks that are located remotely or not frequently visited.

Mr Haddrick said the stealing of scores or hundreds of sheep would take specialist transport and a strong working knowledge of the stock.

A Stock & Land call to Ballarat CIB was not responded to before the time of print.