FARMERS and landowners have been urged to be on their guard against Christmas poultry thieves.

The Country Land and Business Association is warning smallholders in particular to be on the look-out for bird rustlers eager to cash in on the traditional seasonal demand for turkeys, chickens, geese and ducks.

All poultry producers must take extra care to combat raiders who are quick to punish poor farmyard security, says the CLA.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Specialist poultry farms are usually well protected with modern alarm systems and sophisticated security technology.

“But even they should be extra alert day and night during the run-up to December 25 and never underestimate the audacity and determination of thieves seeking poultry to steal.”

The theft of Christmas poultry can net criminal gangs thousands of pounds.