Millcroft Irish Moileds Based In East Lancashire
Phillipa Milligan gives an insight into her experience of Irish Moileds and purchasing online in the Magnificent Moilie online sale
Phillipa Milligan helps run a farm-based business in East Lancashire, specialising in home-bred rare breeds. Croft House Farm prides itself on producing and supplying farm gate produce which includes Irish Moiled beef and Derbyshire Gritstone Lamb. Although the farm is at just under 1000 feet above sea-level, the cattle and sheep spend the summer grazing on the clover and wildflower rich meadows and eating the meadow hay in the winter, which has taken over twenty years to perfect. Animals are grown at their own pace, and although slower to mature, the effort is worth it. The unique flavour, marbling and tenderness of the meat is exceptional; a real melt in your mouth experience.
Phillipa gives an insight into how the Millcroft herd of Irish Moilies came about and gives some advice to help others who are thinking about keeping this hard working, rare-breed cow.
“Several years ago, we tried expanding into cattle, but unfortunately it didn’t work out (a decision finalised by a cow going through the side of a building rather than into the crush). Fast forward to 2018 we wanted to try keeping cattle again. With so many breeds of cattle available, what to choose? We wanted native breed cows for all the reasons our wonderful natives give us (I feel no need to preach to the converted here). We wanted a breed that would cope with our farm; it is about 800 – 900 feet above sea level, with Wet (which needs a capital ‘w’) Lancashire weather. Our land is clay, so poaches easily. We wanted an animal easy to handle and able to produce a product from the cattle that was unique and marketable for our farm gate sales.
The Irish Moiled ticked all the boxes: a hardy breed to survive the weather and live outside in the winter; thriving on poorer ground; producing good calves, plenty of milk, easy calving and able to successfully cross with continental breeds; a medium sized cow, so less likely to poach the ground; a mild, docile nature, so easy to handle; able to produce a niche product from beef hamper sales.
An online advert appeared for an Irish Moiled cow and heifer calf in Lincolnshire, my Mum bought them as a surprise birthday present. I was immediately bitten by the Irish Moiled bug and have since expanded my herd through a breeder in York, who has supplied me with more cows.
Not having my own bull, I used a continental bull; my cows have just calved this summer with two beautiful heifer calves, and already reserved by a neighbouring farmer to join his commercial beef herd.
Wanting my own pure breed Irish Moiled bull, I looked at the catalogue entries in the 2020 Irish Moiled Cattle Society online auction, ‘Magnificent Moilies’, hosted by Harrison and Hetherington, which had a good number of quality bulls and cows listed for sale from the three constituencies (GB, NI and ROI), all with full pedigrees, photos and videos, with cattle in Ireland export ready, expanding my choice. I found an unrelated bull which was perfectly coloured and full of breed character and come auction day I bid and won! The online auction was easy to use, especially as a first timer, and very well presented. The seller in Ireland was extremely helpful and had sold one of his heifers to a breeder in Scotland, and we arranged that they would be transported together to England.
3am I got my first glimpse of my purchase. Daylight revealed a lovely looking young bull. The girls at home also approved (sigh of relief). As I write, he is now running with the cows – fingers crossed for some lovely calves next spring!
Lastly I just wanted to tell you how keeping Irish Moiled cattle has gone so far. I have had them for around four years now, and they have exceeded my expectations in every way! They are so easy to handle, taking very little time to halter train. They have calved outdoors on their own, are super mums, have an abundance of milk, even on poor pasture, and they easily live in or out. The beef from them is beautiful; I could sell my beef hampers twice over (but I make sure my freezer is full before anyone else’s!). Customers comment on how melt-in-your-mouth the beef is, with the marbling giving great taste and butter yellow fat from the grass.
I would now like to take the opportunity to thank the society and the breeders for all their help and support – so Thank You. If you are interested in this great breed, then please look at the Irish Moiled website and Facebook page for lots of information on the breed, auction dates (the next online auction is in October, by H and H) and private adverts, as well as information for anyone wishing to sell Irish Moiled beef. Also keep an eye out for open days run by the society. The last one I went to pre-COVID was held in Moffat, Scotland. Everyone made me feel extremely welcome as well as hosting a fantastic, information packed day.”
The 2021 Autumn Magnificent Moilie Online Sale will take place from noon on Thursday 14th October concluding noon Saturday 16th October conducted by Harrison & Hetherington, Auctioneers, Carlisle. There are once again entries from Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland with export status. If you have not done so yet, it is important to register with Auctioneers Harrison & Hetherington before the sale to be able to view the catalogue and bid on auction day. For more information please visit the Irish Moiled Cattle Society website, facebook page or email IMCS breed secretary Gillian at