There was a 57% increase in livestock rustling in the first ten months of 2011, with farmers in the south suffering the majority of the thefts.
Some 2,453 cows, sheep and goats worth a total of NIS 5 million were stolen between January-October last year, according to figures released from the Beef Cattle Breeders of Israel.
The stolen livestock is generally taken to the West Bank, slaughtered within hours, and then smuggled back into Israel to be sold by butchers to unsuspecting customers.
Thefts in the south of Israel increased by 68.2% versus 2010, reported the breeders' association.
Last year's increase in thefts was a reversal of a multi-year trend. Between 2006 and 2010, thefts declined by 32%.
No one is immune to the problem, noted the association: This month, thieves stole 25 calves, worth a total of NIS 100,000, from the kibbutz of the association's chairman, Yaakov Bachar. The theft took minutes.
Only 11.5% of stolen livestock is ever found, because the animals are slaughtered so quickly.
Thieves are apparently most interested in goats and sheep, according to figures on recent thefts.
The association says most of the last few months' thefts were carried out by Israelis who live in unrecognized villages in the Negev.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now