Co. Donegal is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, beaches, scenic views and rugged coastlines in the world, another beautiful fact is that it is also home to approximately twenty active pedigree Irish Moiled cattle herds.
One of those herds is the Lackagh herd owned by Karen and Peter Gray. Established in 2021 after much research into which breed would suit their rugged coastline land and farming system, they knew they couldn’t have a modern breed that needed a high input, high output system as half the land is hill, whilst the other half is good enough to cut silage off in summer, the detrimental effect of keeping heavy animals on their rugged landscape was not something they wanted. They wanted to protect and continue to enhance the habitat rich land. Karen and Peter set about visiting Irish Moiled herds to gain more knowledge about the Irish Moiled breed, happy with their final decision that the Irish Moiled breed would suit perfectly, they acquired their first three purebred heifers, two were in calf followed by three more cows and a bull. The Society’s Magnificent Moilie Online Sale gave them the opportunity to purchase an in-calf heifer and cow which has completed their herd for now. They have been delighted with the ease of calving presented by the breed and especially relieved at the cattle’s temperament which is paramount to them as a couple as their farming system requires them working more hands on with the Moilies, they are able to hand feed hay and silage, and they are able to walk through the cattle with their dogs.
The Irish Moiled are renowned for being a browser, light on foot and instrumental in maintaining and keeping areas clear of more aggressive and invasive plant species allowing for heather, wildflowers, and other species of plants to grow and seed. The Moilies thrive in these habitats which are nutritionally poor in forage but are nutritionally species rich.
The hardiness and thriftiness of the Moilies have been welcomed by Karen and her husband Peter. This winter, the four yearling heifers were on the back of the hill with no extra feeding, with their natural native instinct in being resourceful they enjoyed a variety of species of plants available to them in an abundance which most other breeds of cattle would pass by. They kept their condition which is shown in the photograph and are in suitable condition for going to the bull. The other eleven Irish Moiled cattle in the herd were grazed throughout the winter on another part of the hill. Karen commented it was quite incredible how the Moilies would make their way down the hill in the mornings to be fed which was either silage or hay and as the day would pass, they would make their way back over the top of hill or followed the sun (when they had it) back to the comfort and shelter provided on the other side of the hill.
The Lackagh herd of Irish Moiled cattle along with the other Irish Moiled herds have added to the beauty of the landscape of Donegal both visually and to its biodiversity conservation.
On 19th August 2023 the Irish Moiled Cattle Society will be hosting a Members day at another Irish Moiled herd based in Donegal. Denis O’Boyle owner of the Inis Fraoigh herd will be welcoming breeders to see his herd on Rutland Island. Just like the cattle, the breeders will travel by ferry from the town of Burtonport to Rutland Island, on the way hearing all about the transportation of the cattle to and from the Island. Denis and his family will be on hand to give a tour of the island, giving talks on the history of the island, the conservation grazing, and seaweed eaten by the cattle. If you have never heard about a virtual fence, then this is the place to hear and see how it works. There will be guest speakers on conservation grazing and the new ACRES scheme. More details will be released later but meantime anyone interested in attending the breeder’s day which is open to anyone please contact the Society on ++44 7842185008 or email
Well known Judge and stock man Trevor Chadwick from Co. Galway will be judging this year’s classes at Balmoral Show. Judging of the Irish Moiled Cattle Classes will take place on Wednesday 10th May at 10am.