Mayo dairy calves destined for prison

Bóthar, the international development agency that specialises in the use of livestock, has launched an unusual appeal in Co Mayo. The organisation is seeking the donation of 26 heifer calves, one for every county in Ireland, as part of a Spring Calf Appeal to provide animals for its Shelton Abbey rehabilitation project. The Spring Calf Appeal follows last year’s successful partnership with Shelton Abbey prison facility in Co Wicklow, which has agreed to care for the animals at the prison’s on-site farm as part of their rehabilitation programme for inmates.

Calves donated by farmers, schools, and community groups from all over the country will be taken to Shelton Abbey, where they will be reared by Shelton Abbey inmates for the next two years. Once they are mature enough and in calf, they will be flown to needy families in developing countries across Central Africa. The Spring Calf Appeal will run until April 30 2009.

Last year, Bóthar entrusted 300 dairy goats, donated from all over Ireland, to the Shelton Abbey farm for care by the inmates. In December, the goats were transported from Shelton Abbey to Belfast international airport where, together with 100 dairy goats from Northern Ireland, they were sent to over 400 individual families in Tanzania, East Africa. The partnership between Shelton Abbey and Bóthar is mutually beneficial. Donated livestock receive expert care at the farm while the scheme provides inmates with a positive way to contribute to society.

One of the inmates of the prison described the experience as being most rewarding. He said he was moved to learn the enormous impact that one good Irish animal could have on a whole family in Africa. He said that he and his fellow inmates really appreciated the opportunity to give something back to society and hoped this word would get out to the wider community.

Each Irish calf sent to Africa will be donated to a family that has already received training in livestock care from Bóthar. The families that take part must agree to pass on the first female offspring from their animal to another family, and so the effect of the donation is multiplied over and over. This system is an integral and essential part of all Bóthar animal projects.

If you would like to donate a dairy calf to Bóthar contact Dave Moloney, Bóthar on 061 414142 or [email protected]

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