The Irish Moiled is the rarest of the surviving indigenous breeds of Irish cattle and the only surviving domestic livestock native to Northern Ireland.
The myths and legends of Ireland refer many times to 'red, white backed cattle' and skeletal remains have been dated to 640 A.D. Cattle which are hornless and have similar colour markings are found today in Finland and Norway. Tradition has it that they were brought from Ireland to Scandinavia by the Vikings around 1000 A.D.
The breed was popular throughout Ireland in the 1800’s on a wide variety of habitats but thrived on the ground of the hill farmer particularly in the ‘drumlin’ country of South Ulster. However with the introduction of more specialist dairy and beef breeds numbers began to decline.
The decline in numbers was slower in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the island but even here by the late 1970s the pedigree herd numbered only thirty breeding females and two bulls, maintained by only two breeders. In 1979 the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) recognised the Irish Moiled as endangered and placed the breed on its 'critical' list. Enthusiasts began to work actively to revive the breed and their efforts have been rewarded.
Below are some interesting articles on the history of the breed.
Extracts from Vol 1. - A copy of a booklet produced by the Irish Moiled Cattle Society in the 1930's
A step back in time... Extracts from the I.M.C.S Minute Book - An article by Sam Smiley on the formation of the Irish Moiled Cattle Society
Extracts from 'On the Modern and Ancient Races of Oxen in Ireland'