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Irish Moiled Cattle

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The basics:
Irish Moiled Cattle are a dual purpose polled (hornless) breed which are native to Northern Ireland. The name Moile (or Maol) is derived from the Gaelic language and relates to the distinctive dome or mound on top of the head. Irish Moiled Cattle are one of three remaining indigenous Irish cattle breeds, the others being Dexter Cattle and Kerry Cattle.

According to the Irish Moiled Cattle Society, "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."

Appearance / health:
The Irish Moiled Cattle is usually red or roan. According to the Irish Moiled Cattle Society, "They are a hornless (polled) breed, red in colour and characteristically marked by a white line or 'finching' on the back and under parts with red ears and nose. But they can vary from white with red ears to nearly all red. The face is often roan or flecked."

Like other livestock, cattle require regular vaccinations and inoculations (for example, rabies inoculations) for disease prevention and health management. Similar to other mammals, cows can suffer a variety of ailments and health issues. A veterinarian should be on call and provide regular checkups and monitoring for the entire herd.

Behavior / temperament:
Cattle are docile animals that have strong maternal instincts. They are big and bulky, and could, therefore, inflict harm without intending to. Handling and brushing them constantly while juvenile will help train them to be calm and trusting around humans, which is helpful especially when they need to be attended to by the veterinarian or groomer.

Housing / diet:
Housing for cattle is essentially to give them shelter from extreme weather conditions. Barns, rub-in sheds, stalls, and other structures like windbreaks, should be available where the cows graze. Aside from manmade shelters, trees and tall bushes can provide resting places for cattle to minimize heat stroke or wind chill.

Shelters will give the cows the option to seek safe haven from strong winds, extreme heat or cold, and heavy rains. Shelters should be strong, stable, spacious, well ventilated, and waterproof. Barns should be provided with water supply, and stalls should be lined with hay. They should also be cleaned regularly.

Sprinklers and other cooling systems are recommended for areas that overheat during summer months. Professional and humane fencing should be provided. All poisonous plants should be removed from the pasture; and hay should always be kept dry (wet hay grows molds, becoming a health hazard for cows).

A good quality pasture for grazing is the basic dietary requirement of cattle. The recommended pasture size per cow is 10 acres, without which, the diet should be supplemented with hay. The recommended quantity of hay is an average of 2% of the animal’s body weight per day (or 2 lbs. of hay per 100 lbs. of body weight). Supplements include grain mixes, protein and mineral cubes, and salt blocks, depending on the type of cow, its uses, and the local climate.

Providing a constant supply of fresh water is essential. An adult cow consumes an estimate of up to 20 gallons of water per day.

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