An Essex farmer has voiced his astonishment at the beheading of one his young breeding animals in an unsolicited attack.

Robert Henry who farms at Vesey Farm, Great Holland near Clacton-on-Sea woke on the morning of Thursday 10 November to find his five-month-old beef shorthorn heifer laying on the riverbank missing its head.

It had been suggested that it might be someone recreating a scene from the film the Godfather using a calf’s head instead of a horse’s head, but Mr Henry believes that the beheading is the result of the calf being mistaken for legitimate prey by a stalker with a rifle during the twilight hours.

“We think it may have been someone who was illegally shooting on our land that mistook it for a deer and then decided to remove its head to hide the evidence,” he told Farmers Weekly

Essex police, who are appealing for information, and an officer from the RSPCA confirmed that a knife of some description was used to remove the beast’s head.

Tendering District Council’s Nature Warden, Leon Woodrow, told the East Anglian Daily Times that it was unlikely the animal was part of a bizarre ritual.

“I have not come across anything like this before.  In my opinion the animal was dead before its head was cut off as there was very little blood on the ground,” said Mr Woodrow.

Mr Henry hopes the incident was a one-off as his remaining stock are to remain out over the winter.  He has also not received any compensation for the loss of the animal which he had planned to use as a breeding animal.