This is the second in a five-part series on security on smallholdings. To read part one, click here.

Given the worsening state of unemployment and poverty in our communities there is a greater threat of a smallholder losing poultry or livestock to theft, so every precautionary measure possible is sensible. In late-2020, Police Minister Bheki Cele reported that more than 26 000 sheep had been stolen in South Africa in just three months during the second quarter of 2020, and that only reflects those cases that were reported.

~ The most obvious is to bring in animals at night and keep them in secure shelters. Leaving them in the field in the dark is inviting the “take-away” trade. This also provides the opportunity to count them regularly, and to check on their general wellbeing.

~ Perimeter fences are not only there to keep animals in, but also to keep thieves out, so ensure that they are always in good repair. Check internal fences as well. The other precautions that we detailed in our first post on the security theme will be helpful in preventing stock theft.

~ Train staff to be alert and to notify you if anything suspicious arises.

~ According to the Animal Identification Act, 2002, it is compulsory to mark all cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. You need to register with the National Dept of Agriculture in Pretoria, apply for an identification mark and then have your animals tattooed or branded with your mark. You can do this yourself or have it done by a registered contractor.
This means that should animals be recovered, you are able to prove ownership. Click here for all the information on animal identification marking.

~ Keep documentation that also proves ownership. Keep a stock register, with a description of each animal. When you buy livestock insist on a receipt which includes all the personal details of the seller, as well as a Stock Removal Certificate. File these for future reference. You can download a blank Stock Removal Certificate here.

~ Unless you have a huge herd or flock ~ unlikely, given the limited grazing on a smallholding ~ take a picture of each animal.

~ Report any theft to the SAPS. There is often apathy towards this, as owners say that the SAPS is ineffective, but over the years there have been some good reports of the work done by stock theft units. In November 2020, Minister Cele also established a task force dedicated to combatting stock theft.

~ There is a manual on the prevention of stock theft, which you can download here.

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