Irish Moiled Cattle at Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm
Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm on the outskirts of Lurgan plays a key role in conserving rare and traditional livestock breeds.
The farm was established on its current site in 1985, located within Tannaghmore Gardens. It is a popular venue for outings and family visits.
The rare breeds animal farm offers close encounters with many animals traditionally found on farms in Ulster 100 years ago.
Many of these breeds are now rare and close to extinction. The open farm itself covers approximately 4-acres.
However, they use livestock to manage approximately 200-acres of council-owned and maintained land. This includes the National Nature Reserve at Oxford Island, an Area of Special Scientific Interest (conservation designation, Northern Ireland, UK).
Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council own and run the farm.
Richard McKitterick began working at Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm in 2013 as farm manager.
“I have been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help preserve and look after part of Northern Ireland’s living heritage – our native breeds to this island.”
At Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm, they used the cattle herd for conservation grazing across lands the council own and maintain to help establish species-rich grasslands.
Irish Moiled cattle
The first Irish Moiled on the farm arrived around 1992; a bullock called Colm.
They used him on display for visitors as an example of the breed. Earlier breeders loaned animals to the farm to help promote the breed, with the farm acquiring its first female in 1993.
Part of the foundation animals came from Belfast Zoo and the dispersal sale of the National Trust herd at the Argory.
They formed the Silverwood herd of Irish Moiled cattle around 1993 from the initial foundation animal. It used AI for the first few years with varying rates of success due to the shortage of suitable bulls at the time.
The farm has several rare breeds, including Irish Moiled cattle, Dexter cattle, Kerry Cattle, Shetland cattle, Galway and Jacob sheep, Oxford and Sandy and Black pigs, Connemara pony, Bagot Goats and a large selection of poultry and domestic waterfowl.
The rare breeds animal farm has three main aims:
- Firstly, to operate as a visitor attraction where the public can see and appreciate rare breeds. It claims to be the only RBST Approved Conservation Farm Park in Ireland. Furthermore, it attracts between 1000,000 and 130,000 visitors a year. It has free admission and open seven days a week, and only close to the public on Christmas day.
- Also, to educate the public and the next generation on food and farming and the importance of conserving our native breed. It has CEVAS accredited staff who give pre-booked tours to school groups. They use the native breeds to show where food comes from and the part farmers play in producing it.
- Lastly, conservation through its ongoing conservation breeding programmes across all its breeds and taking part in genetic research projects. Raising awareness with the public of the importance of keeping these breeds going. Increasing biodiversity by conservation grazing of lands.
AI Irish Moiled bull
This year, a first for the farm was collecting AI straws from a homebred Irish Moiled bull, Silverwood Bramble 3 [pictured below]. He is out of Silverwood New Dawn cow, one of the longest established bloodlines in the herd.
Bramble 3 is currently the highest genetic evaluated bull currently available through AI. Straws will be available from him through the Irish Moiled Society.
The farm hopes to try and export some of his straws internationally to try and promote the breed with interest initially from New Zealand and Australia.
Outwintering and no fertiliser
They have a low input, no fertiliser system in place. The animals are used to manage the land instead of the land being managed for the animals.
The herds are grass-fed, receiving only minimal concentrates as “a treat” to help with stock management and handling.
They outwinter cattle and feed them supplementary haylage or hay they make from their own lands on only specific sites, which allow for this; cattle only come indoors at calving.
At Tannaghmore, native breeds are ideal for conservation grazing work due to their typically hardy and thrifty nature.
Many consider rare and native breeds to be the best animals for this job.
As populations of rare breeds dwindle, so does the genetic diversity of their species. Some genes help a species resist a disease.
As genetic diversity drops, those protective genes may die off with the disappearing animals.
And that could put food security at risk. Therefore, it is important to keep as many of these native breeds going as possible. Once an animal becomes extinct; it is lost forever.
These animals are part of our living history and heritage and helped shape our farming methods and landscape for centuries and, as such, need protecting for future generations.
Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm has entered two bulls into the online sale for the first time.
Silverwood Bramble 3 is a 3-year-old bull with a “great” presence and temperament that is typically marked with a deep rich dark red colour.
Bramble 3 is halter trained and, with great genetics, would make “a great addition” to any herd.
Also entered in the sale is Silverwood Elm. This is a young bull with “great potential” out of Ravelglen Cal EX92; he is halter broken and very docile.
100% rare breeds
Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm hope to convert the enterprise to 100% rare breeds over time.
It intends to continue to raise awareness of the plight of rare breeds through engagement with the next generation The farm believes the youth of today will be the custodians of our rare breeds in the future.
The future of the Irish Moiled breed is “optimistic”, considering where the breed was in the 1970s to where it has soared to today.
Moreover, due to the hard work and dedication of breeders, the Irish Moiled Cattle Society and the RBST, the breed has made “remarkable progress”.
Furthermore, it can continue to progress over the years to be part of low input sustainable farming practices, especially on marginal land.
Magnificent Mollie Online Timed Auction
To note, the Irish Moiled Cattle Society will hold its Magnificent Moilie Online Timed Auction until 7 pm on Thursday, April 7th.
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