Belfast Telegraph

Balmoral Show: Once endangered Irish Moilie breed beefs up numbers

By Richard Halleron

The Irish Moilie is back.

Relegated to the status of an endangered breed just a decade ago – with two of the then remaining five herds to be found in Belfast and Dublin Zoos – Irish Moiled cattle are now back again in real numbers, taking their rightful place at Balmoral Show.

Traditionally Moilies were kept as dual purpose animals and can produce significant quantities of milk from a grass-based diet.

Moreover, the quality of the beef they produce is excellent.

"The breed has enjoyed a real renaissance over the past number of years, and rightly so," north Down breeder Nigel Edwards told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Moilies remain one of the rarest cattle breeds in the world today. Yes, it's important that the unique gene pool within the breed is kept alive for future generations for the purposes of maximising our biodiversity options moving forward.

"However, the reality is that the quality of the beef produced by the cattle is in a league of its own. And it is this tremendous economic advantage that will ensure the ongoing growth in Moilie numbers over the coming years."

Nigel said that 10 years ago "the big concern was the fact that with so few Moilies left, the gene pool available would have been too narrow to allow the future development of the breed".

"However, to their eternal credit, everyone who committed to saving the Moilie from extinction worked strategically so as to ensure that the breeding programmes that were followed gave the Moilies every chance of having a future well into the 21st century and, hopefully, beyond," he added.

In addition to the extended range of show classes at Balmoral visitors can sample the meat produced by the animals, courtesy of Bruces Hill Cattle Company of its Irish Moilie beef range.

Belfast Telegraph