New and exciting times are here for Irish Moiled cattle – a medium-sized dual-purpose breed that very nearly became extinct in the late 1970’s.
With approximately 2,000 females registered with the Irish Moiled Cattle Society, this increase in numbers has allowed the organisation to embark on a new marketing strategy.
The society is taking its lead from a steady increase in demand for Irish Moilie beef from the general public and an increased number of butchers shops, restaurants and farm shops.
The Certified Irish Moiled Beef scheme is due for launch in the next few months and will require all cattle to be pure-bred; this will be backed up by the parent-proven DNA tests which the society has been carrying out for many years.
It aims to demand for Irish Moiled beef and encourage the registration of pedigree animals.
“The strategy of the Society is to increase its network of suppliers mostly through increasing the number of specialist farm shops, delis, butcher and restaurants where we have seen a steady increase in demand.” Brian O’Kane told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
The society is currently working on a set of guidelines to support the environmental and ethical rearing of Irish Moiled Beef within a traditional farming framework; this will become available at the launch of its new scheme.
Irish Moiled cattle - a hardy breed - have with thick coats, meaning that they can remain outside over winter where ground conditions allow.
“This type of easy-kept animal is ideal for the suckler cow farm; it has a great temperament, is easily handled, is not too large and is easy on the ground.”
The beef is predominantly fed on grass-based systems with outside grazing all-year-round possible. Irish Moiled steers are usually slaughtered from 20-24-months, with carcass weights ranging from 240-280kgs, grading R3s.
The breed – which has a very low environmental impact – is utilised in specialised conservation grazing projects, are good foragers and can live on a variety of plants and flora; they are particularly good at converting rough pasture and will fatten on grass without much difficulty, according to the society.
“This diversity in what they eat adds to the flavour of the meat and couple this with their rate of growth provides us with a premium product.”
“The beef itself has a distinct beefy flavour that throws peoples taste buds back to times past. The beef is well-marbled and tender it eats well and coats the mouth with a unique buttery taste.”
“The quality of the cheaper cuts encourages its use in restaurants as the chefs can add value to the product,” Brian added.
Grass-fed beef is high in omega 3s; CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and vitamins A & E; it also has healthier fats than grain-fed and has added antioxidant (beta carotene), according to this study.
“The beef is particularly suitable for use in a system, that embraces the use of the whole carcass.”
“Beef reared in this system take longer to mature and cost more to produce. The Irish Moiled Cattle Society believe it’s worth it in order to produce a superior premium product.”
Discussions on the formation of a Producers Organisation are currently afoot but nothing has been agreed but is something for the future.
“Ireland as a whole has become more of a food destination and people are becoming more discerning about what they eat.”
“Irish Moilie beef can offer unrivalled providence and a premium product to fulfil this market.” Brian added.”
“The number of Irish Moiled cattle within the food chain are small, which leads to competition for the product.”
“Prices have been gradually rising and the society can see incentives growing as the marketing strategy rolls out it is a very exciting time for the breed and a good time to get involved,” Brian concluded.
Irish Moiled beef can be purchased from farm shops and butcher shops – details can be found here.
Image source: Irish Moilie Beef\ Facebook