Crofter says she’s victim of sheep theft
Date of alert:
Sunday, 15 May 2022
A Lewis crofter has spoken of her desperation and frustration after a number of highly-valued sheep went missing while out on the moor and in mysterious circumstances.
A total of 32 sheep – some bought in from the mainland – have gone missing on Ruth MacDonald, Laxay, in the Lochs area and despite widespread searches and appeals there has been no sign. A total of 18 of them were in-lamb and due to give birth now.
While it’s far from unusual for sheep to go missing on the moor, what makes this case stand out is the high number involved at the one time; they had all been recovered in previous gathers, meaning they had been accustomed to the terrain and where to go – and they all belonged to the one owner.
After working as a shepherd and on dairy farms on the mainland, Ruth decided to set up a pedigree flock of Texel sheep alongside commercial ewes 10 years ago with her husband in Laxay.
Last year she purchased 23 young “mules” – a composite sheep breed used for producing fat lambs – which she says “was a big investment”.
They were sent to the moor along with the other sheep last year and “came back no problem after every gather”.
However, when she went to bring them back home for lambing they had disappeared.
"After the scanning in February this year I put all the in-lamb and dry ewes and gimmers out to the moor for six weeks”, said Ruth.
“On the 2nd April we gathered the moor and I was missing 17 of my mules that I bought in, along with two blackface gimmers, two texels and some of my homebred gimmers.