A smallholder who had three young "gorgeous" pygmy goats stolen from his land last week has appealed to the public not to buy such animals unless they are sure about where they came from.

Francis Nesbitt from Co Kilkenny said his teenage son Charlie has been left heartbroken following the theft of the days-old pygmy kids from their property last Friday night.

Gardaí are investigating the incident but it's understood no definite leads have yet been established as to where the three young animals may have gone.

"My appeal would be for whoever took them - just bring them back," Francis Nesbitt told RTÉ News today.

"Under cover of darkness, just drop them in the field."

The family, who run a cottage letting business and also keep a variety of animals on their land at Dunamaggin, have had a pair of breeding pygmy goats since last autumn, after 15-year-old Charlie expressed an interest in owning them when he saw them while on holidays some years ago.

"We were hoping that they would breed and this was going to be his first farm enterprise," Francis explained,

"They looked good around the place. Last Wednesday the female, Francesca, gave birth to two girls and a boy. They were gorgeous little animals."

The following day he decided to use photographs of the triplets as his first social media post in months and, while many people saw the photos and said "how cute they were and that they gave them a great lift," they also proved to be a prompt for thieves, who "lifted them on Friday night when they were two days old".

The Nesbitts were keeping the pygmy goats in a paddock with some alpaca's and the kids were likely to have been "huddled together" when they were taken.

"You can only imagine," how Charlie has been feeling since the incident, Francis said.

"He's disgusted, absolutely disgusted."

Francis Nesbitt pictured with one of the pygmy goat kids

Meanwhile, Francis himself was feeling guilty about posting the photos on social media but pointed out that many people, when they have something new, put up photos online for people to admire.

"You can't ask people, don't post anything in case someone steals it."

There have been other cases in the past of pygmy goats being stolen, he said, including in Dublin, and there does seem to be a market for them at the moment, with an advert recently offering a one-week old goat for €500.

"They're in big demand as a pet. This kind of thing happens in cycles, there wouldn't have been a market for them a few years ago but now they're trendy.

"Heartless people follow these kinds of trends and help themselves to other people's animals so they can make a few bob."

The family hope that whoever has the kids "has the capacity to care for them and keep them alive" but fear for the effect the removal of her offspring will have on the mother, Francesca, who "for the first 36 hours was just bleating constantly".

Meanwhile, as when dealing with the puppy market, anyone buying pygmy goat kids should be wary of their origins.

"They are beautiful creatures but don't buy them at one-week old, don't buy them until they're weaned properly after a few months, only buy them where you can see the mother."

Anyone with information on the theft from the Nesbitts has been asked to contact gardaÍ in Thomastown in County Kilkenny on 056 7754150.