>Irish Beef


Marvelous piece in the Farmers Journal this week entitled ‘Where’s the beef?’ by Imen McDonnell about the quality and taste of Irish beef and how she has come to appreciate the taste and flavour of our grass fed beef.

From our own point of view, for quality and taste the traditional breeds are best whether it be Angus, Hereford, Irish Moiled etc.. We of course would be rather partial to the Irish Moiled, but basically if you want top quality beef  buy Irish, buy it from your local butcher and preferably from a butcher who has his own abbatoir. They need our support and our beef needs them!

And speaking of local butchers, we have just come back from Flood’s of Oldcastle where we went to see our Moile bullock which has been hanging in their fridge for the past 3 weeks. It was a great opportunity to see it on the hook and to discuss with Johnny, Declan and Martin Flood the different cuts and options to make the best use of it from our freezer!

If you’re ever in Oldcastle be sure to call in, or alternatively look out for their market stall on Saturdays at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers warehouse in Carnaross.
The four quarters ageing nicely in the fridge, and a good covering of fat too, essential for flavour. I was relieved to see the carcass looking so well as I was worried he wasn’t finished properly, but Declan assures me that it’s looking really good.
Our own organic rare breed beef, butchered locally and into our freezer: a total of 25 miles from ‘field to fork’!
We will be using this Moile beef through our B&B, and may have small amounts for sale but essentially we envisage using most of it here, however we sold 2 bullocks to Clanwood Farm who own and operate The Organic Kitchen, which you may have seen at shows and festivals round the country.

As part of their business they also sell their organic beef to specialist shops in the Dublin area: Cavistons, the Organic Supermarket and Thomas’s of Foxrock to name a few. So keep your eye out for Irish Moiled beef in these establishments and better still, create a demand by asking for it!

Some of our Irish Moiled Cattle

>Moile Calves

>Two Moile cows were due to calve this spring.
The first to calve, last Saturday, was Derrynagarra Hilda, a lovely heifer bred by us. It was her first calf which is always an anxious time for everyone, but her mothering instincts are very strong and she had her calf licked dry and suckling in no time.

Derrynagarra Doreen
She is a beautiful heifer calf 1 day old in this photo, with Mum keeping a very close eye!
Two days later, Derrynagarra Gwen calved and had a nice bull calf. This is her third calf and so she is an old hand at this now and is an excellent mother.
He is only 20 minutes old in this photo. We haven’t named him yet!
Any ideas?
All calves must be tagged and registered with the Dept of Agriculture within 20 days of birth. The Dept keeps very detailed individual records of all animals in the National Herd, and from the tag number can tell age, date of birth, breed, where it was born, where it is now, owners details, all movements, tag number of dam etc etc.
From a farmers herd number they can tell how many animals are in the herd and all their details, and from this they can calculate the amounts of nitrates and phosphates produced!
So, there is no option they have to be tagged and the longer I put it off the stronger the calf gets and the more difficult it becomes.

With the mothers safely restrained in the crush, the calves get an individual tag in each ear.

Fast asleep in the sunshine later the same day, none the worse for ware!

Both calves about a week old!

>Irish Moiled Cattle Photographs

>If you heard us on CountryWide this morning, with Ella McSweeney, talking about Moiles and were wondering what they looked like, here are a number of photos taken on the farm throughout the year!
Our animals are all DNA typed and parentage proven. As we mentioned to Ella they are all named, and carry our registered prefix ‘Derrynagarra’

Derrynagarra Patricia

Derrynagarra Gwen

Derrynagarra Viola

Gwen with here calf Patricia, 4 weeks old

Helen’s favourite photo

‘The Bull McCabe’ wishing he was in his field!

Christopher’s favourite Moile photo

Derrynagarra Hilda

Twelve day old calf

Chewing the cud

Derrynagarra Viola

Two day old calf.

The snow and freezing temperatures were of no concern to ‘The Bull’

McCabe drinking through the ice


>Ella McSweeney who presents Countrywide on RTE Radio 1 and Ear to The Gound on RTE Television came down to see us this morning to talk to us about Irish Moiled cattle and to record a piece for Countrywide. It should be broadcast tomorrow morning, time permitting, otherwise it will go out the following Saturday, 5th February.

To give you bit of a preview, click on Helen to hear an audioBoo of her naming our cattle!



It is unusual for us to get much snow this side of Christmas in Ireland, but we have made up for it this year. Westmeath has not been hit as hard as some parts of the country and we only have about three inches.
Knock Eyon with a light dusting of snow.
 Once the fields are covered with snow it is important to get feed out to the animals still outside.
Christopher puts out the round feeders and then places a bale of haylage in each for the ewes.
 Iota feeling very small in the snow!
  Iota and Smidgen following the quad tracks up to the bull.
McCabe and two weanling bullocks are still out, and quite happy as long as they have food and water.
Water does become a problem as all the troughs and pipes freeze. McCabe knows how to break through the ice and get to the water, however after a couple of days we have to break out all the ice and refill the trough. For the last fortnight the daytime temperature has not got above freezing, and at night our wall thermometer has read as low as minus 10 Centigrade.
The only outside tap still working is at the front of the house in this wall. Christopher has to bring a barrel in the quad trailer and fill it from this tap,
the water is then decanted by bucket into the various troughs. Alot of  extra work!
Some of the ewes being picturesque.
Knock Eyon, and the ewes eating their haylage.
The weather might be hard work, but it is really beautiful.

>Irish Moiled Cattle


Sweetheart calved last Monday morning, a lovely heifer calf. This really is a stroke of luck because firstly heifers are what we want, and secondly she is by our previous bull and is completely unrelated to our current bull Damhead McCabe. (but I’m getting slightly ahead of myself! She has a long way to go before that.)

Moile calves are quite small initially, making them relatively easy to calve. But their mothers have plenty of milk, so they grow on very quickly!
Only four days old and very photogenic, particularly without her ear tags.
By law she has to be tagged within 20 days of birth and then registered with The Department of Agriculture
We haven’t come up with a name for her yet, any ideas?
She is out of Springfield Sweetheart and by Glassdrummond Iceberg.

>New Calf

>On a thoroughly more positive note, another Moile calf was born (Derrynagarra Edward) and as you can see from the following photos, he is a lovely bright active calf!

Having his ears washed

His mother (0001) was the first Irish Moiled calf born on this farm.

>Bad things seem to happen in threes


We wondered whether to include some of the more depressing aspects of farming on this blog, and then decided it would a bit unrealistic not to.

We have had a run of bad luck recently:

We were expecting another foal this year. The mare started to foal, but it soon became apparent that events were not progressing quickly enough and by the time she finally foaled with considerable veterinary assistance her filly foal was born dead.It was the mare’s first foal, and while it took about a week for her to recover from the physical ordeal, she didn’t really know what happened and so did not miss the foal.She has now recovered and is out grazing peacefully with the others.

That same weekend one of our Moiled cows gave birth to a dead calf. Calving progressed normally, and she is a very experienced cow so there was no obvious reason which is frustrating. The calf was full term and born bang on it’s due date.This cow has had a lot of calves, she knew exactly what had happened and would not leave the calf.

Each morning I would open the door of the shed and leave it open all day. She would have one or two mouthfuls of grass and then go back to sit with her calf.On the third morning she got up, had one last look back at her calf, and walked off to join the rest of the herd. She too has recovered and is out grazing peacefully in the sunshine.

The following weekend having hatched 10 chicks…..

….our broody hen and her chicks disappeared. We think the fox must have taken them, but there were no tell tale feathers strewn around, just no hen and no chicks.

There is an expression in farming which says that ‘where you have livestock you will have deadstock’. This sounds a bit callous but it is more a way of pointing that, even with the best will in the world, these things do happen and some things are beyond our control.

>New Recommendation for Lough Bishop House

Exciting news on the Bed and Breakfast front!
Following a successful recent independent assessment, a recommendation for our house has now gone up on the Georgina Campbell website.

Follow the link and see what she has to say about us!

>Our Moiles finally go out to grass.

>We had our annual herd test last Monday. This is a compulsory Dept of Agriculture test carried out each year in order to eradicate Bovine TB and Brucellosis. The results are extremely important, because if you fail, our herd is locked up and no live animals can be sold. A real headache!.
Thankfully our herd is clear for TB and we are awaiting the results for Brucellosis.

Our stock bull Damhead McCabe
We just call him “The Bull” for short. (obvious I know, sorry)
Oh, and just to say, he’s not behind bars for any particular reason!

So, with the winter fodder all used up, and straw reserves at an all time low, it was time to let our Irish Moiled Cattle out to grass. And as the following photos show, they didn’t take much persuading.

I think thats called ‘High Tailing It’
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