Hardy Scots could come to hill farmers' rescue
The prospect of hardy Galloway cattle controlling vegetation on Ireland’s uplands is being actively considered by hill farmers.
Much of the hill and mountain commonage has been deemed ineligible for the ANC and Basic Payment Scheme in recent years because of unrestrained growth of wooded heather and purple moor grass.
Hill farmers blame the prevalence of this vegetation on the Department of Agriculture’s policy of destocking the uplands in the 1990s.
However, the INHFA are looking at the option of putting Galloway cattle back on the hills as a way of bringing vegetation growth under control.
Last week a group of 21 farmers visited the Galloway region of southeast Scotland to view how farmers there managed the stock on the hills.
“In order to get our hills back to the condition they were in previously famers are going to have to be allowed to graze our uplands under a different set of regulations. One way of achieving this could be by grazing cattle all year round on the hills,” Sean Martin of the INHFA maintained.
“In 2011 after some research and in consultation with the Department I decided to introduce Galloway cattle to my own commonage. I chose the Galloway breed because of their hardiness and their ability to graze on heather and molina grass (purple moor grass),” he pointed out.
Native to Scotland, Galloways are a hardy breed with a thicker skin and double coat of hair that means they can live outdoors all year around and thrive on the tough mountain grasses.