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Minto goat dairy hit by brazen theft

Owner seeks public’s help in locating 48, all-white, weanling Saanen does stolen in July

This time, nobody is pointing the finger at coyotes.

Sometime between July 14 and 22, 48 white Saanen kids out of a herd of 600 owned by Oak Island Acres goat dairy in Minto went missing in what owner Diane Rourke suspects was a particularly brazen theft.

The goats, all-white, weaned four- to eight-month-old does weighing 40 to 50 pounds each with blue ear tags in their left ears, had been kept in a barn at a yardsite a couple of miles from the main yard where she and her husband David run their extensive farm operation.

“We noticed right away that there wasn’t enough white, weaned females,” said Rourke. “It wasn’t coyotes because there would have been blood in the pen or straw. You don’t lose that many all at once.”

Rourke said she believes the thieves must have loaded the animals onto a trailer under the cover of darkness. All that was left to indicate something had happened were a couple of empty beer cans near the barn and a gate that had been closed in an unusual way.

“Somebody knew what they were doing,” she said. “They just backed in and picked off what they wanted.

“They only took the Saanens, they knew how to access the yard, and knew which of the animals were the most valuable,” she said, adding that the thieves were careful to avoid taking any goats with specifically identifiable colours or characteristics.

Saanens are the “holsteins” of goat breeds, and she estimates her loss at $400 per animal — or nearly $20,000.

The goats, which are unpapered but purebred, were old enough to live on barley and hay, and could be “anywhere,” she added.

Rourke purchased the dairy operation, company name, and shelf space from its previous owner in Ile des Chenes back in 2010, and now sells milk and cheese under the Oak Island Acres brand through large and small retail outlets in Western Canada.

Although she has reported the theft to Boissevain RCMP, she also purchased an advertisement on the Manitoba Goat Association website in hopes that it will lead to a tip or information that will lead to their recovery.

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