Farm Ireland

Friday 20 April 2018

Focus on the Irish heifer donors

Barney McDonnell, his wife Siobhan and children Christopher and Ciara, travelled from Mountnugent, Co Cavan, to Shelton Abbey to see their heifer before she flew on to her new home in Rwanda.

"On St Patrick's Day 1995, the wind caught a power cable and brought it down on the yard where my cows were standing," recalls Barney.

"I lost 24 out of 25 of my cows and nine of those were ready to calve.

"My insurance did not cover me and I had to borrow €40,000 to set myself up again with a dairy herd.

"I know what it is like to have nothing so when I heard about the families Bóthar helps, I offered to give a calf every year if they need it."

Coon West, Co Kilkenny, residents Sean and Teresa Haughney first got involved with Bóthar seven years ago when Wexford farmer John Fortune was rearing calves for the charity.

"We have given four or five calves in different years but this time we did it with our neighbour Seamus Cody, who was disappointed not to be able to come see his calf today," says Sean.

"It's lovely to see the animal before it goes to Africa, it's our first chance to see what she looks like."

Also Read

Galway man Brian Tarpey travelled from Seafield, Oranmore, to see his heifer calf at Shelton Abbey, accompanied by wife Francis and daughter Kayla.

"I was locked up with TB, with plenty of my best cows gone down," he says.

"When I heard about the Bóthar appeal for heifer calves, I swore that if I went clear on my last test, I would give a calf.

"We passed the test and I stuck to my word."

Thomas Crowley is a Cork farmer who accompanies each batch of animals on their journey abroad.

"In the last four batches we have taken 310 animals, including the 70 heifers to Rwanda and 60 pigs to Albania," he says.

The heifers are penned in groups of six, seven or nine for the 13-hour journey from Shannon to Rwanda. The trip includes an hour-long stopover in Libya for re-fuelling.

"The animals travel well and we have a 100pc record since I started doing this is 1990," adds Thomas.

"The main issue is keeping them cool, particularly on the stopover when the plane can get extremely hot.

"I keep a generator on stand by to run an extra fan inside if the cattle start to sweat and come under pressure."

Irish Independent