A farmer in north Wales has lost cattle worth thousands of pounds after vandals removed gates to their field at the weekend.
The cows could have wandered onto the main road
A herd of 200 dairy cows wandered out of the field and into the yard at Rhyd y Cilgwyn, at Rhewl, near Ruthin.
Four animals have died after eating concentrated animal feed from a food store. Two more are seriously ill.
But police say they were lucky the cows did not wander onto the main road fronting the farm, causing an accident.
Vandals struck at the farm in the early hours of Sunday morning.
A gate penning the animals into their field was completely lifted off its hinges and dumped a short distance away.
"It is so substantial that it would have taken two or three people to lift it," said a spokesman for North Wales Police.
"The farm is on the A525 Ruthin to Denbigh Road. If the cows had strayed onto that unlit road during the night, it could have caused a much bigger tragedy."
Instead, the animals wandered into the farmyard where they milled around and the "greediest" managed to get inside the food store, and eat the stuff which was not suitable.
"Four cows have so far died and another two are described as seriously ill and it's likely that they will die," said the police spokesman.
Each of the animals are valued at between £800 and £1,000, and the farmer has also lost the milk revenues from them.
"It has been a very distressing incident - for the farmer and the herdsman who have spent the last couple of days trying to save the cows."