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Thieves killing and butchering cows in fields to sell meat on black market

Rob, from Gloucestershire, said the intruders had taken away meat after killing the animals during two separate incidents
Rob, from Gloucestershire, said the intruders had taken away meat after killing the animals during two separate incidents - BBC

Cows are being killed and butchered by a gang of thieves who are selling the meat on the black market.

One farmer described the sight of the slaughtered animals as “horrendous” after police confirmed that a spate of attacks were believed to be linked to one group.

Livestock owners in Worcestershire have previously been warned about the gang, said to be “highly mobile”, following similar killings.

One, called Rob – who did not want to provide his full name – said the gang had killed two cows on his Gloucestershire farm in two separate incidents in August and November. A third cow injured in the second attack had to be put down.

Farmers and animal welfare charities have said that they believe the offenders are butchering cows to sell their meat on the black market.

Rob said the attack had caused a huge amount of distress to his wife and 13-year-old son. adding: “It’s horrendous – it’s like losing a pet in a way. It’s our livelihood. I know that we’re breeding them for meat, but we’re giving them the best life in the time that they’re alive.”

Rob's farm was targeted in separate attacks in August and November
Rob's farm was targeted in separate attacks in August and November - BBC

Rob said the first attack happened on Aug 21, when an eight-month-old calf was killed. In the second, two cows were killed between 6pm and 9pm on Nov 3, with five other cows injured, including one which had its ear cut.

On both occasions, all that was left of the dead animals was their heads and innards.

In Worcestershire, three calves were killed in a similar attack at a farm in September. In October, another two were killed.

Pc Phil Mawdsley, the rural wildlife and heritage crime officer with Gloucestershire Police, told the BBC the killing of animals for meat was “rare” in the county.

He urged livestock farmers to keep count of their stock, to check their fields for tyre tracks, check fence structures and install CCTV.

The RSPCA said it was aware of a number of cases in which calves and cows had been killed in a manner suggesting it had been done for black market meat.

A spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we have recently seen similar incidents involving calves being slaughtered and butchered in farmers’ fields, and we suspect this is then for their meat to be sold on the black market. These are shocking and concerning incidents, which would have caused the calves significant distress and suffering.”