AS you drive up to the home of the McConnell family, situated in the beautiful area of Glenwherry in the Antrim Hills, the landscape is spectacular.
It is easy to see why it is an area of outstanding and natural beauty with a mixture of uphill green pastureland and hill moorland.
The variety of the landscape, which has significant environmental quality, provides distinctive and unique resources which have built a powerful relationship between the people, its environment and nature.
Three generations of the McCon-nell family live on the farm and farming runs in their blood. Between the three generations the McConnells share a true passion for farming and advocating for agriculture. Working together they share their skills and knowledge and experience not just with one another but also with anyone who also has a passion and interest in farming. A truly diversified farm, they milk cows alongside their beef and sheep enterprises.
The journey between the McCon-nells and the Irish Moiled cattle has spanned well over 30 years when, as a young apprentice whilst fencing close to Kells in County Antrim, Richard first spied over the hedge in a field several Irish Moiled cattle grazing. The sight of these very picturesque cattle caught his
attention and with further invest-igation he found out that not only were these cattle very eye-catching but that they were a rare native breed.
Several months later he dis-covered that the field of cattle which first got his attention was the pedigree Shankbridge herd owned by T Jenkinson, who was
a prominent member of the Irish Moiled Cattle Society. The ‘Shankbridge’ prefix exists in the back breeding of animals in some very well-known herds today, such as the Glassdrummond, Prestwood, Aughnakealie and Castledale herds.
Richard bought a bull from T Jenkinson for the family’s suckler herd and they were very impressed with the crossbred calves produced by the Irish Moiled bull. The Irish Moiled fitted perfectly into their system and environment, ideal for rough grazing and crossing the Irish Moiled bull on commercial heifers for easy calving that are nice colourful offspring.
Shortly after Richard spotted his first Irish Moileds in a field near Kells, Henry took his teenage son to buy his first pedigree female from renowned Irish Moiled br-eeder and the current president of the Irish Moiled Cattle Society, Gordon Stockdale of Downpatrick. Purchased was a typically coloured pedigree Irish Moiled cow called ‘Conlig Kim,’ who went on to breed several calves for the McConnells, including a very influential and well-known bull in ‘Glenfield Joseph’.
Father and son were smitten with Irish Moiled cattle and a second female from the Castledale herd of Gordon Stockdale was purchased, “Castledale Dolly”. Richard took his ‘Castledale Dolly’ to their first show and proudly recalls winning second place with her. She went on to win many rosettes, including breed champion.
This was the beginning of the successful ‘Glenfield’ Irish Moiled herd with a policy within the herd of trying to produce purebred Moilies that are the proper traditional typical colour with a good carcase and plenty of milk.
Richard’s passion and enthusiasm for the breed was recognised far and wide and he was elected as Chairperson of the society for several years. Richard has travelled the length and breadth of the country in his quest to go further with the breed, between showing Irish Moileds at every show in Northern Ireland to then go on to judge every show in Northern Ireland along with several shows in Great Britain.
He has sold Irish Moiled cattle at the Meltonmowbray Show and Sale in GB, even undertaking doing a 500 mile trip to deliver Irish Moiled cattle to the south of England.
Several well-established Irish Moil-ed herds were started with offspring out of the Glenfield herd.
Richard is delighted that his son Andrew has taken a keen interest in the Irish Moileds.
Andrew has a good eye, knowing what he is looking for when it comes to Irish Moileds.
He is taking the Glenfield Irish Moiled herd into the next generation for the McConnells.
Andrew works full-time but has got the support of all the family and his girlfriend Laura behind him in making sure the Irish Moiled enterprise on the farm is successfully managed. Andrew and Laura will be heading to Balmoral Show with a cow and a calf team, and an in-calf heifer.
Also, this autumn will be the first time for Andrew to enter the Magnificent Moilie Sale with a young homebred bull calf which he hopes will be purchased by a pedigree breeder.
The Magnificent Moilie Online Sale takes place from Thursday, October 14, finishing on Saturday, October 16. Harrison and Hetherington, auctioneers from Carlisle, are de-lighted once again to be involved with the Irish Moileds.