Weird Cow Breeds: The Irish Moiled
This week we turn our attention to our own shores with the Irish moiled once a common sight now a rarity.
The Irish moiled is a weird cow breed by virtue of the fact that they are now so rare. A native breed of cattle they are the only surviving domestic cow from Northern Ireland.
A polled animal they are known for their distinctive red and white colours. Their white markings known as ‘finching’ makes them easily recognisable.
Their name Moile relates to their characteristic mound dome at the top of their heads.
A medium sized cow (mature cows can weigh up to 650kg and bulls can weigh 800kg) they are of a quiet and easy temperament.
A dual-purpose animal they were used commonly on rural farms in the past for both purposes and their milk was often used to make white soft cheese. Indeed their milk yield has been estimated at 5000 litres.
Found in the north-west of the country they hail from Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal but the breed is now found throughout the country.
Despite having been once a very common cow in the 18th and 19th century their numbers dipped to a near terminal low in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1970s two breeders had been keeping moils for dairy and its through their work that the remaining 20 were rebred and numbers began to turn up for the better.
A good meat cow they thrive in poor ground making them ideal for Irish soil and weather. Indeed its said their meat quality is what saved them from extinction.
The largest population of Irish moiled now live in Finland where it's understood the raiding Vikings brought the cow back with them so impressed were they with its qualities.
Calving is usually complication free and cows can have one calf every 12 months. Cows are known to keep calving until their mid-teens.
Steers finish off at 20-24 months and as noted their meat is of a high-quality taste.
The Irish moiled was nearly gone but today they are making a return!