Saturday November 3, 2012

WALPOLE, N.H. -- Early on the morning of Oct. 28, Vincent and Carol Malnati awoke to a disturbing scene: Two empty calf hutches in front of their barn on Route 12.

After 24 years of running the Malnati Farm the unthinkable had happened -- two of their Holstein calves had been stolen.

"My husband and I love what we do," said Carol Malnati. "We work hard and to have something like this happen ... it's very disheartening."

Many people who drive Route 12 are familiar with the Malnati Farm, as it is less than a cow-patty toss from the road, across from Achille Agway.

The theft happened sometime between 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 and 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, she said.

"One calf is a couple of weeks old and weighs about 100 pounds," said Malnati. Somebody conceivably could have picked that calf up and walked away with it, she said.

The other, which is nearly two months old, weighs between 200 and 250 pounds. Malnati doubted any one person could have hoisted that calf off the ground.

Malnati said the thief or thieves couldn't have just walked off with the calves.

"They have not been taught to lead," she said. "They would not follow like a dog. You have to halter them and drag them or have someone behind to push."

The calves are worth between $500 and $700, said Malnati, a loss a dairy farmer can ill afford due to the tight margins they operate under.

The Malnatis milk about 70 cows, with another 80 replacement cows, calves not yet ready for milking. The Malnatis are members of the Cabot Creamery Cooperative, which produces such favorites as Seriously Sharp Cheddar.

Malnati grew up on a dairy farm in Orange, Mass. Her husband grew up on a dairy farm in Ashley Falls, Mass.

"We've never had any animals stolen," she said.

She said she's contacted other local dairy farmers and let them know of the theft so they can take measures to prevent the same from happening to them.

Anyone who might have information about the stolen calves is encouraged to call the Malnatis at 603-756-9537. Troop C of the New Hampshire State Police is investigating the theft. It can be reached at 603-358-3333.