Heads and entrails were all that remained of four steers poached from a paddock off Heads Rd.
It was a distressing sight for Okoia farmer Blair Kerwin, who was yesterday forced to put down another three animals that were injured, one with puncture holes which appeared like bullet wounds, another with a damaged skull, and the third whose throat had been slit.
"This is the worst case ... Pit bulls got in and ripped the face off one and ages ago one calf got jumped, but nothing like this," said Mr Kerwin.
The 33-year-old said whoever poached the animals must have known what they were doing because they had "picked all my big ones".
The poached cattle would have fetched $1600 to $1700 when sold to the works, said Mr Kerwin.
He has leased the paddocks between Heads Rd and Puriri St from Whanganui District Council since 2009 and uses them once a year as a finishing block for the cattle he raises on his 16-hectare Okoia farm.
The 26 cattle he had grazing the paddocks were to be his main source of income for the year when they were sent to the works in the coming weeks.
Mr Kerwin had been working at the block on Monday afternoon; the vet called to assess the injured animals believed the four dead cattle would have been killed on Monday night.
It was people working in the community garden that borders the land who noticed the butchered and injured animals and contacted the council yesterday morning.
Mr Kerwin said the paddocks behind Heads Rd were protected by security cameras at adjacent businesses, but the paddock behind Puriri St that his cattle were in was vulnerable to poachers.
He said he would shift the remaining 19 animals back to his Okoia farm and was offering a $500 reward for the conviction of those involved. Those with information should call 027-496 4327.
The police had been informed of the incident, although Mr Kerwin was still waiting to hear back from them yesterday afternoon.