DEVASTATED farmers who were already grappling with the drought have offered a reward for help after one of their pregnant heifers was brutally killed near Tamworth.
The 19-month Limousin heifer was heavily pregnant when she was slaughtered and had her hide professionally removed. The carcase was stolen and the unborn calf and remains were dumped on the Currububula property.
Phillip and Barbara Bricknell run the stud farm and said it was hard to put a dollar value on the crime, because they had lost "the heifer and the progeny" and future breeding potential.
"It's deplorable to do that to an animal - a heavily pregnant heifer, too," Mrs Bricknell told the Leader.
"It really is devastating."
The heifer had been missing since the end of February, but the remains were discovered strewn across a paddock on May 30 and the skull a day later, stuffed down a hollow tree stump on the property.
"We noticed her missing, but I was looking in the wrong place," Mr Bricknell said.
The couple are grappling with the drought and also supply Oxley High School with their steers for their steer competition.
Already paying huge money on supplement feeds and agistment to keep the stock going through the drought, this low blow has meant they'll have to fork out more to increase security at the farm.
"Then someone does this to us," Mrs Bricknell said.
The couple are at a loss to explain something so savage and cruel, and they've posted a $1000 reward for any information that leads police to the offenders and a criminal conviction.
"Whoever has done this, they've known what they're doing and it takes more than one person to do that," he said.
"It's hard enough to keep everything alive as it is.
"People talk and you never know, something might come up - but we're just hoping it might twig someone's memory."
Anyone with information is urged to contact Oxley Rural Crime Unit on 6768 2999 or Crime Stoppers.
Oxley Rural Crime Detective, Senior Constable Les Wallace, said the owners had "their stock identified and were checking them regularly, but they have still been targeted".
"We would encourage producers to ensure that all of their stock are identified in some way, whether it be a combination of or using all available identifiers including brand, tattooing, earmark, husbandry tags and NLIS tags," he said.
"In this instance they identified the theft through their regular stock checks, which assists us to initiate inquiries to identify the offenders involved.
"Without some type of identifier on stock, it makes proof of ownership and returning them very difficult. We understand that NLIS tags can be cut out, so regularly checking of stock to ensure stock numbers are correct is essential.
"Landholders should also identify potential weak points on the property, and chain padlock gates fronting public roads and secure stock yards when they are not in use, particularly if they are near a public road.
"Take note of any unfamiliar vehicles or people arriving at your property."
Detective Wallace said landholders could download the force's Tackling Rural Crime handbook, which contained farm security tips.