Kalvin Kreshewski noticed an awful smell yesterday when he delivered mineral to his cattle near Rossburn, Man.
“We drove in through the gate by the corral, and we could smell something dead. We looked down the hill and we could see two cows lying side by side,” Kreshewski said.
The cows had died from dehydration after being locked in a waterless corral by cattle rustlers.
Near the corral, the grass was trampled from recent activity and there were fresh truck tracks.
“I drove in the pasture, counted the rest of the cows, realized there are 21 cows missing and 30 calves. Now I have cows without calves and calves without moms out there,” Kreshewski said.
He’s worried the calves orphaned by the thieves won’t gain as well as they would have, and they won’t be very heavy come fall.
“We’re going to try catching them (calves) today and bring them home and bottle feed them, or just keep them around the corral so we can look after them better, to make sure that they survive,” Kreshewski said.
He estimates the theft of his Black Angus and Black Angus-Simmental crossed cattle will cost him $60,000 to $70,000.
The RCMP attended the scene, filed a report and is investigating.
Kreshewski also offered a $10,000 reward on Facebook for information on who stole his cattle.
He said farmers from southern Manitoba who have had cattle stolen have contacted him since he posted the reward on social media.
“I put a reward out because I want to know what happened, who the people are,” he said.
“That brought out enough attention that other people are getting a hold of me who had cattle stolen.”
The social media attention also brought criticism that he should have been watching his cattle more closely.
“On Facebook, people are criticizing me for not checking the cows properly. ‘Oh, how could you let them die without water’ ” he said.
“But I can’t be there every day with them.”
The pasture where the cattle were stolen is 30 kilometres from Kreshewski’s farm, but the cattle were regularly observed by his hired man from the road.
There were 68 cattle in the pasture, so even with almost half of the cattle stolen, it would be hard to tell without driving through the pasture and counting the cattle.
“They figure it was last Wednesday (June 28) is when it happened, so because we’ve been busy haying, I haven’t actually drove in the pasture for a week,” he said.
“We’ve just been driving by and making sure nothing is on the road.”
Kreshewski said lots of water is available in the pasture for the cattle.
What angers him the most is how the panels were left tied to the corral so that the two cows couldn’t access water.
“That’s what is the most disturbing to me. You know there are cruel people in the world, but there is nothing like watching an animal suffer with no water, that’s what bothers me the most about all of this.”