As cattle prices continue to rise cattle rustlers continue to strike in the Ozarks.
Deterrents to Theft
1. Identification. Possibly the most effective thing a producer can do to minimize the risk of their livestock being targeted is to use visible identification systems. Branding has been shown to be the most effective form of ID when it comes to recovering stolen livestock. When branding isn’t an option consider using ear tags or tattooing. The main concern with ear tags is they are easily removed before stolen livestock are sold. One option to consider is tamper evident ear tags, which are harder to remove. Another way to identify your cattle is to take photographs and record physical markings. Livestock identification is essential for proof of ownership and the return of stolen livestock.
2. Be Visible. Being visible on your farm will deter cattle thieves. Mixing up your routine will throw thieves off track if they are watching your farm.
3. Eliminating Easy Targets. Keep holding-pens, corrals and feeding areas away from roadways. The same goes for equipment. Maintaining good fences and keeping gates locked and limiting who has access to the keys will, at the very least, slow a thief down.
4. Establish a Rural Neighborhood Watch. Establishing a good relationship with your neighbors and creating a neighborhood watch program may aid in catching rustlers.
5. Stranger Danger. Be aware of strangers and unfamiliar vehicles. Write down their license plate numbers and alert your neighbors. The more concrete details you can obtain the better. If at all possible get a description of the person and their vehicle. Thieves “shop” during the day so watch for spotters.
6. Surveillance Systems. Consider installing driveway sensors, alarms for electric fences, game cameras and posting trespassing signs.
What to do in the Event of a Theft
The first thing you should do in the event of a theft is to call your local law enforcement on the “non-emergency” telephone line and report the missing cattle. Law enforcement is then going to ask you a lot of questions once they begin the investigation. The more information you can provide the better. Know the exact head count of your herd and be able to tell law enforcement how many head were stolen. Gather any records you may have kept on the stolen livestock.
The second call you should make is to local livestock auctions giving them as much information about the stolen livestock as possible.
Another call you should make is to the LMA. They will send the information on stolen livestock to every market in the association across the nation. To contact the LMA call 1-800-821-2048.
Arkansas Branding Laws
According to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission branding in Arkansas is on a voluntary basis but some regulations do apply:
• Every person in this state who has cattle, hogs, sheep, or goats shall have an earmark and brand, and but one of each, and differing from the earmark and brand of his neighbors.
• The term “brand” shall mean a permanent identification burned into the hide of a live animal with a hot iron or chemical in letters, numbers or figures, each of which are at least 3 inches in overall length or diameter.
• Brands shall be registered with the clerk of the county court. Brands are the responsibility of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.
• The brand location shall be designated in the following body regions: head, right jaw, neck, shoulder, rib and right and left jaw, neck, shoulder, rib and neck, right and left hip, thigh and breeching.
• Applications for registration or reregistration shall be properly signed and notarized and accompanied by a fee of $5. A brand, if approved and accepted by the division for registry, shall be of good standing during the five-year period in which it is recorded.
• All persons selling livestock branded with their brand recorded in a current edition of the State Brand Book or supplements thereto shall execute a written transfer of ownership to the purchaser.
Oklahoma Branding Laws
According to Tiffani Pruitt State Brands Registrar with the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Oklahoma is a voluntary registration program but registration is highly encouraged. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association provided the following regulations:
• A brand is defined as a permanent mark, not less than 3 inches in length or diameter and burned in with a hot iron, or a method commonly known as “freeze branding.”
• Single unit brands such as: one initial, numeral, bar, slash or quarter circle, cannot be accepted for state registration.
• Each brand registration must be confined to one location on the animal. Where the same brand is used on two positions, two applications are required. Brands must be registered for the following eight positions: left neck, left shoulder, left rib, left hip, right neck, right shoulder, right rib and right hip, except that previously registered Oklahoma brand positions are not affected in any way (O.S. 2, Sections 405).
• Applicants are required, under law, to list three-distinct brands and/or three positions on the animal for use of their brand, in order preferred.
• State registration of your brand is not required by law. Brands on record take precedence over unrecorded brands of like and kind where questions of ownership arise, placing the burden on proof on unregistered brand users in the event of controversy. Registered brands are prima facie evidence of ownership in a court of law.
• Brands registered as of now are good for the 2010-2015 period. There is a $20 registration fee due every five-year period.
While cattle prices continue to stay attractive to spectators, cattle producers are going to continue to be threated by thieves. Cattle produces must make conscious decisions for deterring thefts on their property.