Young farmer loses entire stud herd in daylight robbery
A YOUNG stud sheep breeder will have to start from scratch after thieves stole his entire herd of ewes and lambs.
Matthew Franklin had 12 ewes, some with lambs at foot, stolen from his Mount Whitestone property on Friday.
The ewes represent four years of Mr Franklin's "blood, sweat and tears" that went into developing his stud Millennial Poll Dorsets, based at Mount Whitestone.
Mr Franklin, 29, is in the process of building a house, and had only moved his stud sheep to the property one month ago.
He believes whoever took his prized sheep had "cased" the property in what he described as a brazen daylight robbery.
Mr Franklin said he checked the sheep about 9am on September 4 and returned at 5.30pm for feeding and a final check-up.
He returned to find the padlocked gate cut, fencing panels missing and all his breeders gone.
All that was left were two rams.
"I don't know if they did it with a joke, because obviously I can't breed with just two rams," he said.
Each ewe was valued at between $800 and $1000.
The Downlands College agricultural science teacher said he had previously been concerned about wild dogs, not people harming his sheep.
"I've been so heavily focused on dog fencing and that type of protection, I didn't think to protect them from humans," he said.
"You do the normal safety stuff putting a padlock on a gate."
He believes whoever took the sheep cased the property, as the sheep were in a paddock 100m up the driveway behind the yards and were not visible from the road.
Mr Franklin said his portable panels had been rearranged into moving yards, and a six-foot water trough was also stolen.
"Like any livestock theft it's impossible to get them back, because they'd cut the NLIS tags and we'd never get them back," he said.
"The lack of empathy or care that these people have shown just to make a quick buck.
"I am back to square one, because without those ewes you can't continue those breeding lines."
The lambs were offspring from his Ekka champion ram and were set to be the next line of genetics at his stud.
Despite the upsetting ordeal, Mr Franklin said the Mount Whitestone community had been extremely supportive.
"I've been really humbled by the support the community has given me," he said.
"Maybe I'm the first (to have stock stolen) and these people might start looking around - who's to say these people don't go after other Mount Whitestone farms next."
Mr Franklin has reported the theft to police.