New Zealand police said Tuesday they were investigating reports of massive cattle rustling from a South Island farm.
The farmer involved is feeling too sheepish to talk about what happened. "He's absolutely gobsmacked and deeply embarrassed," farmer's friend Willy Leferink said. "If you had three-quarters of a million dollars go missing, you wouldn't want to talk about it either."
Leferink said each milking cow was worth about 1,500 New Zealand dollars ($1,090) and weighed more than half a tonne. He said the cows could have been taken from the herd of 1,300 near the town of Ashburton anytime between early July when they were last counted, and late August.
He said the cows weren't being milked because it was winter, but the farmer did notice they weren't chewing through as much feed as normal.
"It's unlikely the theft of hundreds of animals could be completed at once, and is more likely that multiple thefts could be carried out over a period of time," Senior Sgt. Scott Banfield said in a statement.
However, the thieves would face a tough time trying to fence the cows, because each one comes with an electronic identification tag in its ear. The tags could be removed, but that an honest dealer wouldn't buy a cow without a tag.