Irish Moiled bull is now the breed of choice on this Maghera farm

Trevor Armour’s family farm is based just outside Maghera, Co. Londonderry.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 7:09 am
Robert and Alex Armour on their farm in Maghera
Robert and Alex Armour on their farm in Maghera

Trevor’s two sons, Robert and Alex help with the suckler cow herd as well as rearing calves.

There are upwards of 40 suckler cows comprising of Simmental and Charolais crosses and currently twenty-five maiden heifer replacements coming through, all sired by an Irish Moiled bull. The crossbred heifer calves are kept for replacement heifers and the bull calves are sold as stores usually at Draperstown Mart in March/April but occasionally an odd one is finished to put into the freezer. The sucklers are housed in the wintertime but the small herd of pedigree Irish Moiled cattle owned by Trevor’s daughter Rachel are outwintered which is only possible because of how hardy they are, and they do not poach the ground due to their medium size.

When the family introduced the Irish Moiled bull to the cows, he went straight to work and within a noticeably short time frame he was able to catch all the females which has really helped tighten up calving over the springtime. The Armours like to calve all their cows in March and then the heifers in May. Smaller birth weights meant no assistance was required, less stress on the cattle and that was especially true of the first calving heifers. The colours of the Moilie came through in the calves which in the present time, trade is buoyant for anything with a bit of colour. Irish Moiled’s are a polled breed, and by using an Irish Moiled on crossbreds means the first cross will not have horns, cutting down labour and stress of having to dehorn youngstock.

Rachel Armour in the showring with one of her Irish Moileds.

Trevor’s daughter Rachel was the person to get the family involved with Irish Moiled’s. In 2015 she spotted Irish Moiled cattle at the Rare Breed and Traditional show held at the Ulster Folk museum, Cultra and she made it her business to find out as much as possible about the breed. Rachel offered the following year to help show Moilies for any willing exhibitor who would let her show them. The Irish Moiled breeders were only too happy to encourage young people and gave Rachel the opportunity to show in classes at Balmoral show, she became totally smitten.

Rachel began following the breed attending shows, open days, viewing on farms and studying cow families. She eventually won her father over into purchasing her first Irish Moiled in 2016 for her 21st birthday. Beechmount Lily was a strong well marked heifer from the Beechmount herd of Robert Boyle’s. Rachel joined the Irish Moiled Cattle Society registering her Irish Moiled calves under the Beagh prefix. This is where the love for the breed truly began.

Rachel stated she had shown other breeds of cattle in the past for different people but found the Irish Moileds to be something different, they were inquisitive and had loads of character, totally different to anything they had ever had on the farm before. Cattle come and go on the farm but now Rachel’s father and brothers refer to the Moilies as ‘Rachel’s cattle’ and Rachel says she is enjoying having her own herd. Five years later Rachel now has five pedigree Irish Moiled cows with four replacement heifers going to the bull this year. Rachel’s plan is to get the herd to ten quality breeding cows and yes, she says she wants to breed females, but her goal is to breed quality Irish Moiled bulls that will be in demand by both the pedigree and commercial man.

Rachel has had numerous successes in the show ring up until last year when all agricultural shows were cancelled due the pandemic but that was not to stop Rachel. The IMCS organised a virtual online show that saw over 150 entries, Rachel’s first homebred heifer Beagh Belle won junior champion, there is just something about winning a show with your own homebred animal especially as she was the first calf registered to the Beagh prefix.

One of the Beagh herd's upcoming young purebred bull calf

Rachel’s enthusiasm for the Irish Moiled breed did not go unnoticed by the Society, Rachel was appointed a Northern Ireland director in the Irish Moiled Cattle Society. Rachel says being part of the Irish Moiled breed and the Society has taught her a great deal and has taken her to places she could never have dreamed of. The highlight was representing the Irish Moiled Cattle Society at the National young stars at Malvern in which her team the ‘Mighty Moilies’ won. Rachel, along with two other girls, went on to represent GB by being part of the young stockperson’s team at The Royal show Toronto, Canada. Rachel was also followed by a TV crew for a year for a programme called ‘Keep er Country’. She did not miss the opportunity to promote her beloved Irish Moileds.

The Irish Moiled Cattle Society are once again having an online timed auction through Harrison & Hetherington, Auctioneers, Carlisle taking place from Thursday 6th May to Saturday 8th May.

The Magnificent Moilie Spring Sale will give both the commercial and pedigree person the opportunity to buy some of the best Irish Moiled bloodlines.

For further details please visit the Irish Moiled Cattle Society website and Facebook page or contact the breed secretary Gillian at [email protected]

Newborn Irish Moiled crossbred.
Irish Moiled bull with one of his offsprings to a crossbred cow
Crossbred Irish Moiled calf.
Crossbred and purebred Irish Moiled calves
An Irish Moiled bull used on the Armours herd.
Some of the Beagh herd of Irish Moileds.