A breed of Irish cow has been granted the special ‘Native Rare Irish Breed’ status by the United Nations’ Farm and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO).
The Droimeann cow is critically endangered with recent records indicating that only 243 breeding females and 23 males remain in the country.
The breed was granted the special status after undergoing extensive DNA profiling, which proved its bovine type was unique thanks to numerous genetic traits that set them apart from other breeds.
Droimeann cows are popular thanks to their distinctive look, which includes a white streak across the backbone and a diamond of white fur between their hind legs.
They have appeared in historical documents throughout the centuries, as well as featuring in poetry, songs and folklore.
It is hoped that the recognition from the UNFAO will lead to a steady increase in the population of the breed, giving farmers a greater incentive to protect the animals.
It is the first time in 15 years that an animal has been granted the Native Rare Irish Breed status. The last being the Kerry Bog Pony.
Other breeds of cow to enjoy the status include the Dexter, Kerry and Irish Maol.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said: “This announcement opens the door for farmers to access additional financial assistance through various agri-environmental schemes administered by the department.
“But, more importantly perhaps, it also recognises the dedication and commitment of a handful of farmers to a distinctive breed of Irish cow.
“Droimeann breeders have shown themselves to be very diligent in their role as custodians of this breed over many years.
“While numbers of these animals are very low, and can be considered ‘at risk’, I am confident that the dedication of the Droimeann Cattle Society will allow numbers to increase in the coming years.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling