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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Breeders launch new Moilie Beef Group

A group of like-minded breeders have launched the Irish Moilie Beef Group, to promote and protect the native cattle breed, which has, in recent years, faced extension.

Breeders, chefs, restaurant owners and food industry representatives passionate about food produced by local farmers gathered on Monday, June 26th, 2023, 26th at Shanty in Portrush for the official launch.

Showcased by Paula McIntyre, it was “a taste sensation” to highlight the work of the group, that is supported with funding from DAERA through the AFCS Scheme (Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme).

Irish Moiled Beef is a premium beef reared by a team of dedicated breeders using traditional farming methods in a highly ethical environment.

Rearing standards are set out by the Irish Moiled Cattle Society in that each animal comes with a certificate issued by the body.

This certifies the animal is 100% Irish Moiled pure bred backed up with DNA parenting tests carried out by the society.  The society encourages all purveyors to be registered or supplied by a registered wholesaler.

Moilie Beef

Moilie Beef is slow growing, strong in flavour with a strong buttery, beef taste, a traditional taste that’s hard to get today, attendees heard.

Group leader Brian O’Kane commented: With Moilie Beef, you can appreciate cuts of beef from the whole of the animal and experiment with cooking.”

“You can enjoy its sustainability too, in that it is a slow food, native, heritage product on your plate, supporting local farmers.”

“Secure about where it is sourced from; its food sovereignty can be accessible to all.”

He became involved with the breed twenty years ago because these cattle are easily kept, low maintenance and thrive on grass.

He told “I saw a future in the breed, the potential for beef production and showing pedigree examples.”

“Most of all, I was very attracted to bring back an endangered native breed that is also sustainable for the marketplace.”

Irish Moilie Beef 21

About the breed:

The Irish Moiled is one of the rarest breeds of cattle in the world and is also one of the most distinctive native cattle breeds.

Traditionally fed on grass, the Moilie is a ‘big-bellied’ female, which allows it to consume large quantities of natural fodder.

They are foragers, especially willow, ash and ivy, which helps to flavour the meat and makes them ideal in conservation grazing situations.

The Irish Moiled cow is an ancient hornless breed of cattle native to the island of Ireland and Great Britain.  It is the only surviving native breed in Northern Ireland.  They live long and can calve well into their teens.

According to O’Kane, cattle numbers have increased from 80 cattle, 20 years ago, with now 1600 registered females, 50% in Northern Ireland, 35% in ROI and 15% in GB.

Any farmers who wish to get involved can speak with members of our group.

The breed has a very low environmental impact and is used in many instances in specialised conservation grazing projects.

The breed can graze on a wide variety of plants, including ash, ivy, and willow.  Their grazing helps to encourage the growth of a wide range of plants and habitats.

The variety of forage and the speed of growth adds to the depth of flavour in the meat.

Irish Moiled beef is predominantly fed on a grass-based system with outside grazing all-year-round possible, where the ground conditions allow.

According to O’Kane, grass is made into hay and silage for feed in the winter months and “a small amount of grain fed in times of hardship”.


The Moilie Beef Group was set up to develop a coherent brand.

Support from DAERA through the AFCS Scheme (Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme) has helped the group to develop new branding and a website to promote the brand, provide a platform for breeders, finishers, and sellers.

Before this, each farmer was scattered all over the country and “could not gather enough of a presence to create an awareness of the quality and exclusivity of the beef”.

Funding from the AFCS scheme has supported the development of the brand and offered the opportunity to hold the Moilie Beef showcase launch event with support from Paula McIntyre.

The website provides the background information, breeders, finishers, recipes and how to get in touch.

“It is for people who appreciate exclusivity, and to support the breed from farm to fork,” O’Kane concluded.

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