Seventy in-calf dairy heifers left Shannon Airport for Romania this morning (Monday) where they are being sent to help improverished communities.

The airlift of the heifers donated by Irish farmers, which included 30 raised by inmates at Shelton Abbey and Loughan House prisons, was organised by Irish Charity, Bothar.

The heifers were gathered at Roscrea Mart yesterday (Sunday) after being brought there by the donor families. They were transferred to Shannon Airport overnight where they were carefully loaded onto the aircraft and dispatched to Romania early this morning.

Based on calving trends, the Bóthar herd airlifted today, which will be distributed to families in the Timisoara region, could grow to as many as 1,000 animals within ten years, transforming an otherwise poverty stricken community.

The CEO of Heifer International, Pierre Ferrari was in Shannon for the airlift and said the heifers are not just a once of gift that will take a sense of hopelessness from the receiving families.

Bóthar has been working with families in Romania for 12 years, including fish farms and sheep and cow herds. In recent years it airlifted in-calf dairy heifers to an orphanage in Romania where they provide for the dairy needs of 200 children, from infants to late teens.

Speaking from Roscrea yesterday after dropping off their in-calf heifer, Annette Phelan from Galmoy, Co Kilkenny said: “This appeals to us because we know in our heart and soul that the full animal goes to its destination as none of what we donate goes to administration fees. We know also that the heifer will do amazing good for the family. It is immeasurable what this cow can do in the long term for families in those countries.”

Fellow donor Shane Blackwell, from Cappamore, Co Limerick said: “Donating a heifer to Bóthar doesn’t really affect us financially a huge amount but it gives tremendous benefit to someone else. There’s a great tradition in the farming community in Ireland of helping out your neighbour but in this instance, the neighbour we are helping is just that bit further away.”