The Smart Way To Combat Livestock Theft

The Smart Way To Combat Livestock Theft

– By Bradley Wingrave

August 24, 2020

The Smart Way To Combat Livestock Theft

Outsmarting Criminals to Prevent Livestock Theft: Livestock theft and rustling has become more and more organised over the last decade. In recent years, organised criminal gangs have targeted livestock and high-value equipment and machinery. Rural theft amounts to costly losses for farmers. In 2020, animals worth an estimated £2.3 million were stolen from UK farms, making it the costliest form of crime experienced by farmers.

Factors like the high value of items and site remoteness make many farms especially vulnerable to theft. Naturally, farmers are looking at fast, effective livestock theft prevention measures to safeguard their livestock and livelihoods. Could agricultural CCTV systems, utilised in conjunction with other smart technologies like fence gate alarms, be the solution to safeguard farm interests?

Livestock theft statistics

In the 2020 Rural Crimes Report, insurance company NFU revealed that rural theft in the UK had risen by almost 9 percent since 2019, making it the highest recorded increase in eight years. Despite a slight reduction in crime under lockdown, many believe that the negative economic impact of COVID-19 will escalate this trend even further, adding extra pressure to farmers. 

For the second year in a row, the sharp rise in crime was linked mostly to thefts of high-value tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles. Livestock theft also contributed to the rise – with initial figures suggesting an increase of nearly 15 percent. There is no doubt that these crimes are being committed by organised criminal gangs, and the latest figures from The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) reveal that £329,000 of stolen machinery was recovered by Police Scotland between April and June 2020. Inspector Alan Dron, who coordinates SPARC activity, believes that increasingly serious organised crime groups (SOCGs) are targeting and influencing rural crime. 

GPS tracking and theft of livestock

One example of how IoT technology is being used in farming is with livestock GPS tracking. IoT technology such as cattle collars allows farmers to gain remote visibility on the location of their livestock. The smart tag sends out a signal every 15 minutes, straight to a livestock management dashboard. This means that farmers can remotely monitor the location of their cattle at any time, from anywhere. They can also set up specific geofences and alerts to notify them if their livestock moves out of a designated area.

With our GPS tracking device for livestock, farmers gain remote visibility on the location of their livestock. Our GPS cattle collar tracks and monitors the location of every individual in the herd, helping farmers prevent livestock theft, track and recover stolen animals, quickly count stock, detect unusual behaviour and so much more.

The ability to monitor cattle is particularly important considering that cattle theft is currently the third most costly crime for the UK’s farming sector, after agricultural vehicle and machinery theft. Not only does this kind of crime cause financial damage and untold suffering to animals, but it can also cause anxiety for farmers who have built up their herds over many years. Because many cattle farmers have such large herds, they’re only able to detect missing cows after days have passed, and with profit margins already tight, finding out too late about missing cattle can be financially devastating.

A missing cow can also take a long time to locate, but with livestock GPS tracking, farmers can save both time and money since they will be able to locate individual animals in real time Added to this, the collars could also help to identify preferred grazing areas, allowing farmers to adapt management regimes accordingly. The data also has the potential to help farmers study a herd’s social interaction and their contact with other animals. Knowing where animals are can potentially reduce gathering times, help identify sick animals and shed light on grazing habits.

How does a GPS cattle collar work?

The collar sends out a signal every 15 minutes, straight to a livestock management dashboard, allowing you to remotely monitor the location of your animals at any time, from anywhere. You can also set up specific geofences and alerts to notify you if your livestock moves out of a designated area.

The benefits of a GPS cattle collar

  • Farmers can track and monitor their livestock 24/7 
  • They help to ensure the security of the herd 
  • They help to protect livestock from organised crime 
  • They reduce reliance on manual labour 
  • They allow a fast response in an emergency, helping to save the lives of livestock and personnel 
  • They eliminate the need for costly IT hardware and support 
  • They can help to attract a new generation of tech-savvy employees 

Combined with our other smart farm solutions, our GPS cattle tracking collar allows you to manage your farm and livestock with more ease and accuracy. 

Smarter livestock theft prevention is the first step

Together with GPS cattle collars, Smarter Technologies Group works with farmers to create bespoke solutions to track, monitor, and recover stolen assets. Our Orion Data Network system feeds back real-time data on the location, health, and security of your livestock and other valuable assets, providing much-needed peace of mind for farmers looking to protect and secure their businesses and homes. 

Some of Smarter Technologies Group’s other tracking and security solutions include door and gate sensors, farm security gates, fence gate alarms, motion sensors, and pressure pads. When combined, access to this critical data can play a pivotal role in assisting local authorities when arresting and convicting organised criminal gangs. 

Get the complete guide to smart agricultural solutions from Smarter Technologies Group.

Smarter criminals need smarter technology

– Smarter Technologies

One of these smart tools for farmers is agricultural CCTV systems. Working with other smart technologies, CCTC achieves effective results for security in the farm context. Collectively, Smarter Technologies Group’s smart farm technologies give a whole-farm view with real-time monitoring, actionable alerts, and enhanced recoverability, preventing livestock theft and other crimes. 

This integrated system of CCTV, sensors, tags, and pressure pads can be utilised across individual assets for a granular view of a farm’s most important assets. These can be used on tractors, ATVs, and sheds – but can also be used to monitor fuel levels, crops, tools, and fertiliser. This technology can also be used to monitor the status of farm security gates, allowing farmers to instantly react to issues around functionality and fallen fences.  

Remoteness, vastness of distance, and battery life are not a concern with these technologies which are wireless, long-lasting, long-range, and low-cost. Monitoring ability of these solutions extends beyond security too. These tags and sensors can also detect pH changes, noxious gases, humidity, and temperature changes to name a few – all of which endow farmers with greater levels of control.

Quick benefits of smart farm security and agricultural CCTV systems

  • The potential to reduce insurance premiums
  • Increased recoverability
  • Farmers are empowered to react to a vast range of customisable data metrics
  • Personnel safety
  • Asset safety

The benefits of smart fence gate alarms

Distance is no issue

The nature of farm locations makes them vulnerable to crime. Many farmers have extensive distances to police. Monitoring the integrity of fences and fence lines is financially costly and requires intensive, consistent efforts from personnel to achieve a margin of effectiveness. Smart farm security gate sensors and alarms simply and cost-effectively counteract these issues. This technology allows farmers receive real-time alerts on any perimeter breaches – with instantly actionable notifications sent to farmers’ personalised, remote dashboards.

Access control

When it comes to security, a dynamic view of who is on your property is a valuable tool. By integrating with CCTV and other technologies, smart fence gate alarms have the ability to prevent unauthorised access to farm properties – and notify farm owners and managers of any such breach. Together with smart tracking technologies, individual assets can be secured and monitored for a holistic take on security.


An airtight system of access control also presents meaningful solutions for biosecurity. By developing digital systems to monitor the movement of visitors, staff, and vehicles on farms, farmers are better able to prevent potential contamination and movement of pathogens around different areas of farms.

Livestock Monitoring

The integrity of farm security gates and fences is important for safety and security of farm assets from criminal activity and preventing livestock theft. It is equally important in keeping livestock in. If a fence is broken, it poses a risk of injury to livestock. This is one reason why mending fences as quickly as possible should be at the top of any farmer’s agenda. Wandering livestock can also trample crops, resulting in losses – not to mention the time and money that may be required to locate and recover these animals.

Smart farm security gates – together with smart technologies like GPS cattle collars – have the ability to notify farmers if a fence goes down and locate any wandering livestock. Lastly, there are also legal implications attached to the movement of private livestock on to common land – so these technologies assist in keeping livestock in and keeping you within the law.

Pest Fencing

If you utilise specialist pest fencing to prevent your harvest being raided by pests, smart technologies can also help to maintain the integrity of these fences. Some smart technologies on the market will notify farmers of damage to such fencing to help in efforts to protect crops.

Reduce the worry around public footpaths

According to Farmer’s Weekly, the Health and Safety Executive has reported that two to three walkers on public footpaths are killed each year by livestock – and dozens more are injured. This hotly-debated topic has seen many farmers put extra effort into ensuring that walkers and dog walkers do not deviate from paths – with legal liability a primary concern on this point.

Smart fence gate alarms are a good way for farmers to elevate their efforts to ensure safety in this regard. They can inform farmers of unauthorised movements, but can also alert farmers to gates being left open. A case in 2004 found that, although a farmer’s gate had been left open by a third party, he still attracted liability for his livestock running on to a public road and causing a severe accident. The court said he should have reasonably foreseen that this would happen. Smart gate sensors are an early-alert system perfectly geared to address these kinds of issues.

It’s time to get smarter about farm security with smart farm security gates

Farm gate sensor alarms form one vital component of the smart farm security solutions from Smarter Technologies. With real-time data transmitted over the zero-trust Orion Data Network to farmers’ personalised dashboards, the traditional challenges of farm security have met their match with Smarter Technologies Group.

Make the smart move. Contact Smarter Technologies Group today to find out about the ideal smart farming solutions to combat livestock theft and asset theft.

About the author

Bradley Wingrave has a wealth of business experience spanning more than two decades and his success in a number of entrepreneurial ventures makes him a forerunning expert on businesses, offices, facilities and legal compliance.

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