Thieves who targeted a farm in southeast Minnesota over the weekend were after an unusual and surprisingly valuable item – bull semen.
The Austin Daily Herald reports that a canister containing $70,000 worth of bull semen was stolen from a barn near LeRoy, on the border with Iowa, sometime between April 1 and April 7.
Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi told the newspaper the canister was taken from the farmer's unlocked barn and milking parlor – and it possibly took place between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Easter Sunday when nobody was on the property.
This is an unusual, but not unique crime. The Washington Post reported in 2005 that $75,000 of bull semen was stolen from a farm in Maryland, explaining that the difficulty in procuring and storing bull semen, coupled with the animals' sometime reluctance to breed, leads to a high premium on the goods.
The newspaper notes that frozen bull semen can save on the transportation cost of putting a bull and cow in the same pen to breed, and can last for many years.
Also affecting the value, according to the Independent, is the virility of the bull from which the sample is taken. It says that the bulls carrying the most fertile semen are seen as "film stars" in the international dairy community.
One bull from Washington state, it notes, had daughters in 50 countries, while a bull from Holland had 500,000 daughters in 22 countries.
The Austin Daily Herald said the stolen canister was worth about $500, and the vials of semen inside were worth between $300 and $1,500 each.
Police have no suspects at this stage, and the case has been handed over to investigators.