Delight turned to despair as nine baby piglets were stolen from a community farm in Clowne just hours after being born.
Owner of the Clowne Community Care Farm Ian Boyd is convinced whoever stole the tiny piglets took them believing they were the highly sought after micro-pigs.
But he says they’ll be in for a pig surprise as each one, given the chance, could grow to be at least three-feet tall and a weigh around 400 pounds.
Mr Boyd, 48, and his team at the Slaley Lane farm were overjoyed when a drove of eight piglets were born on Friday 17th August and then another nine were born three days later.
However, concern soared on Wednesday when it emerged some had gone missing from the top paddock.
“Tuesday night they were all there in the top field and it was only when I went up on Wednesday morning we realised some had been stolen,” he said.
“I had a meeting with an occupational therapist regarding a patient who wanted to come out and see us.”
“I took her up to see them and had a look inside and it just didn’t look like they were all there.”
“It turned out we only had nine left! A fox might come once but in my experience they don’t usually return, certainly not eight times.”
“We lost eight on Tuesday night and another one on Thursday.”
The farm offers long and short term work type activities and the chance to gain valuable experience including working with animals, cooking and baking, arts and crafts skills and growing fruit and vegetables.
Mr Boyd said he and the team were deeply upset after learning the piglets had gone.
“I can only assume people have taken them for micro-pigs, but they aren’t,” he added.
“They are actual pigs. They would have been tiny at the time and easily mistakable.”
“The only way they could have survived this long without a sow is if whoever has taken them has been up all night feeding them.”
“Their mum is probably two-and-a-half feet tall and their dad is at least three-foot.”
“If they turn out to be the same size as him they will be 400 pounds. They will be in for a big surprise.”
Each piglet could be sold for up to £50 but it’s not the money which concerns Mr Boyd.
“I can’t believe it. Each one could reach up to £50 a pig. It’s not the money, it’s that they will not survive.”
“I was gutted. They were little crackers. I just care for their welfare.”
“They’re meant to stay with their mum for at least eight weeks and they’ve barely had a couple of days.”
“We do have some micro-pigs. People pay hundreds of pounds for them. But the ones taken aren’t micro-pigs,” he added.
A PCSO from Clowne’s safer neighbourhood team visited Mr Boyd and concluded initial enquiries with local farmers and the RSPCA.
A Derbyshire Police spokesman said it was an isolated matter and pig thefts weren’t common around Clowne.
Anyone with any further information regarding the theft is urged to contact Derbyshire Police on 101.