WHEN the decision was made to introduce a traditional cattle breed to compliment the North Country Cheviot flock on Curryfree Hill Farm, in Newbuildings, near Derry, the Dougherty family went for the Galloway.

Their farm is predominately made up of uplands, with a large heather hill making up a large proportion of the land parcel, so Irwin and Olive Dougherty, along with their son David, were attracted to the Galloway's hardy nature, ability to live outdoors all year round and their maternal traits for quality milk production and ease of calvin

Last month, they welcomed along their local CAFRE Business Development Group members to see their low cost suckler system at work. The Doughertys have found the Galloway cows to require significantly less input costs when compared to previous cows, with no housing or wintering costs, no veterinary intervention required and little to no concentrate feeding.

Whilst ease of management is a great selling point of the breed, for Irwin the greatest advantage of the Galloway is the significant improvement they have made to their upland hill ground. The cattle have significantly reduced the presence of woody type heather on the hill and have greatly improved the quality of the grazing available both for themselves and also the sheep flock.

The opportunity to take advantage of the Galloway’s good hybrid vigour was discussed within the group, with the possibility of crossing the Galloway cow to Limousin, Aberdeen Angus or Simmental to improve the carcase quality and conformation of the calves.

The Business Development Groups Scheme is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.