A rash of animal thefts targeting the burgeoning free-range farming community in Cooks Brook, Nova Scotia is punctuated by a gruesome discovery — stolen pigs butchered in a secluded area of the very farm they were taken from. Meanwhile, a neighbouring farmer grapples with a crime just as brazen — the midnight theft of a quarter of her chicken flock from a barn located a stone’s throw from her sleeping child.
With the volume of stolen meat far beyond what one person could consume, the victims reach out over social media. Their search for justice is met with local support and unexpected results.
The livestock thefts and brazen butchering in Cooks Brook were an anomaly for the sleepy community located an hour outside of Halifax.
In addition to the shock and anxiety the incidents caused, they underscored another important issue facing free-range farmers: the risk of letting your animals roam freely in wide-open spaces. Had these been large, industrial farm operations, the animals would have likely been kept inside, safe from theft and other threats. But farms like Amy Hill’s Snowy River Farms and Melvin Burns’ Moo Nay Farms are facing these risks head-on to raise their animals free range.
Farm Crime Facts:
- The farm-to-table movement took off in the 1970’s when small farms started to disappear, as well as different species of vegetables and fruits like heirloom tomatoes.
- When meat prices rose significantly in 2016, there was also an increase in meat thefts, with product being sold on the black market.
- It can take between four to six hours for an experienced butcher to completely slaughter and butcher a pig.
- A 250-pound pig produces about 144 pounds of meat, including 23 pounds of bacon.
- There are 19 billion chickens on earth, outnumbering humans three to one.