The annual appeal for heifer calves was launched on 1 February.

Calves are beginning to trickle in with Pat Mullins of Bothár describing the flow as “steady” but he has urged farmers to donate a heifer calf if they are able to. Bóthar hopes to take in 50 to 60 calves in 2017.

These heifer calves are collected on farms at around five to six weeks of age. They are transported to Shelton Abbey Prison in Arklow, Co Wicklow, and Loughan House Prison in Blacklion, Co Cavan, where they are reared by inmates.

Each prison receives 15 to 20 heifer calves where they are reared until they are about 18 months of age. These heifers are then let run with stock bulls before being exported. Any excess heifer calves that Bóthar takes in are reared in one of the support groups around the country which are run by farmers.

Growing charity

This programme was set up by Bóthar in 2011 and has enjoyed huge success ever since. Over 500 in-calf heifers have been exported.

“The programme is hugely beneficial not only to the families we export to, but to the prisoners. It helps inmates who have been in prisons for long periods to be reintegrated back into society. It gives them an interest in giving something back. The calves are extremely well looked after on the prison farms,” Mullins said.

“We are sending the majority of the in-calf heifers to Rwanda in Africa. The recipients are widows before genocide. Irish cattle are doing extremely well in Rwanda as it’s a lush area.”

If you are in a position to give a heifer calf which will go to a poor family, please Freephone 1800-268-463.

Major milestone

Since it has started sending heifers, Bothár has flown 1,000 heifers to developing countries in Africa.

Read more

Irish cows healing old wounds in Rwanda