Two Cooks Brook farmers say a spate of disappearances of animals on their respective farms and the discovery of a butchered pig carcass has hurt them financially and left them without a sense of security.
Melvin Burns, co-owner of Moo Nay Farms in the Shubenacadie area, first noticed some of his pigs were missing about three weeks ago and about a week ago he found one of his sows dead in his pasture. Then five days later, on June 27, he said he found the remains of a second pig, butchered, along with a plastic sheet.
In total, he said he’s still missing two sows, a litter of eight or 10 piglets, and about four butcher-ready pigs.
“I didn’t automatically chalk anything up to foul play, I obviously wondered all the other options first,” Burns said.
The free-range animals have about 27 hectares to roam, so he thought the disappearances were because of predators or that the pigs had not returned yet, but when the litter disappeared he suspected something was off.
When he found the butchered pig, he and co-owner Bianca Massarella knew it was foul play.
The loss amounts to between $4,000 to $5,000 which would be used to buy hay for their animals.
Burns said he is also missing about 40 chickens and some meat hens.
Amy Hill, owner of Snowy River Farms nearby, told Global News she thought she was missing meat hens about two days ago and when she saw Burns’ Facebook post about the pigs — which has been shared more than 250 times — she counted her birds and discovered 33 of 200 were gone.
“It’s a huge hit,” she said. “We’re still a relatively young business, we haven’t made a profit yet.”
She said she thought she would break even this year, but 33 birds works out to roughly $900 which would have gone back to raising her sheep, pigs, laying hens and the meat hens.
Hill said the missing birds has left her with a sense of a loss of security.
“I thought it made people’s day to watch them running around chasing bugs, you know, as they’re passing by on their way to work,” she said. “Now I feel like it’s more like some people are passing by so they can know when the birds are a good size to steal.”
None of her other animals, including sheep, laying hens and pigs have gone missing.
Nova Scotia RCMP Cpl. Dal Hutchinson told Global News they received complaints from both farm owners, they are investigating and have started neighbourhood inquiries.
“To go in and kill somebody else’s livestock and leave the remains there … it’s not a common thing,” Hutchinson said.
The two farm owners say they plan to install security in order to protect their animals, but they’re also getting support from strangers and neighbours. Hill said people have offered to keep an eye on her property and Burns said people have offered trail cams, and even to come and camp out on the property.
“For as negative a situation it is, it really shows how much support there is in the community,” Burns said.