Over the last five years, some 450 calves have been donated by Irish farmers and sent to developing countries.

This year, Bóthar is hoping to receive 40 calves, which will be split in two groups and sent to Shelton Abbey and Longhand House to be reared by prisoners as part of a farm training programme. The heifers will be put in calf and sent to a country in the developing world after 18 months.

Pat Mullins of Bóthar said that the heifers have a transformative effect in a number of ways.

“The recipients obviously benefit, the prisoners who raise the calves for us benefit and the farmers themselves get a great sense of satisfaction from knowing they have helped,” he said.

The heifers are airlifted to countries such as Rwanda, Albania, Kosovo and Romania, where dairy cows can thrive. This year, Bóthar plans to start sending heifers to Tanzania for the first time.

Cows from Ireland can make a huge difference to recipients, given that they produce 16 to 20 litres of milk per day. In Rwanda, the indigenous cow produces just one litre per day. Plus, each family that receives the gift of an Irish dairy heifer agrees to pass on the first-born female calf to another family.


Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Bóthar CEO Dave Moloney said that the charity is always impressed by the quality of animals donated by farmers.

“Farmers who donate want to give us the best animals. Some people even give us heifers with pedigree certificates,” he said.

He added that donations are also needed to pay for the cost of transporting the animals, training the families in animal husbandry and erecting housing units for the heifers.

If you would like to donate a dairy calf to Bóthar, please contact Pat Mullin of Bóthar on Freephone 1800 268 463 or email pat@bothar.ie

The Irish Farmers Journal travelled to Rwanda to see the difference these cows are making in the lives of people in this small country in eastern Africa. You can read the story here.