Rustling is common in cattle and sheep farming countries, and farmers in Uruguay which is a leading exporter of beef, wool and dairy produce have persistently suffered this sort of crime. Farmers have repeatedly complained to local authorities and police about the lack of protection of herds and flocks, and on occasions even slaughtering in the same fields where the animals grass feed.
But this time rustlers have gone a bit too far in their criminal activities. Some forty kilometers north of the capital Montevideo, at a place called Canelón Chico, a small dairy farmer had several cows stolen overnight, but one of them suffered a most brutal and cruel butchering, butchered the hind quarters of the animal and left her alive.
Pictures and videos on social media showed the poor cow on the ground without her missing hindquaters still alive moving her head around. Obviously she was to be sacrificed.
Several dairy farmers organizations immediately released a statement condemning the action and demanding a strong reply from the police, the local governments, the Meat Board and the Justice system.
What happened to this small farmer on Saturday is not only a very serious crime but also an affront to the whole society because of the cruelty and insanity with which the delinquents acted and can be seen on social media. This is not an isolated case but one of many we have suffered in recent months with no cases cleared or arrests made
We demand once and for all responsibilities and a coordinated action from police, the Meat Board, local authorities and the Justice system, so that there is an end to this scourge which threatens dairy farmers particularly small ones
We are well aware dairy farmers are not the only victims so we call on national farmers' organization and public opinion to support our demand, and finally, we are deeply concerned that faced with this complete helplessness of farmers, this could generate reactions that will mark a serious regression in community relations, we need replies now!!!”
According to local reports in Uruguay rustlers operate in a small scale near rural towns, where mutton and beef can rapidly be commercialized through local butchers particularly now that the price of meat in Mercosur countries because of Chinese demand, has soared.
But there are also the large scale with cattle trucks and good communications , mainly cellular phones, which steal dozens of heads overnight. These are necessarily well organized outfits since in Uruguay all cattle have caravans and a traceability record, which identifies each animal from the day the calf is born to the day it ends in the abattoir. Police are supposed to check on cattle movements and make sure the caravans are correct and coincide and so do abattoirs. So it can be reasonably concluded that in these major rustling operations, the police, the Meat Board and even the abattoirs somehow can be involved, either by action or neglect.
Recent investigations have ended in a few cases with people in jail which also means that the traceability system is not working as efficiently as it is supposed despite current Uruguayan Agriculture and Livestock ministerial statements to the contrary.