Breed of the Month Archive
|Herd-Book creation :||1887
|Nb. Breeding females (2006):||
Ireland; mainly in the southwest
|Local name :||
|English name :||
It is thought that the Kerry is derived from the little black cow,
the Celtic shorthorn, brought by Neolithic man in his migrations
northwards from the Mediterranean basin. They were first recognized
as a breed in 1839 and the herd book was established in 1887. The
number of animals registered per year has fluctuated between 50 and
280 throughout the 20th
century. Currently about 300
animals are registered per year. The herd book was maintained by the
Royal Dublin Society until 2001 at which point registrations were
taken over by the Kerry Cattle Society. Like many rare breeds, one
of the reasons for the decline in numbers has been the displacement
of Kerry cattle in favour of other breeds, such as Friesian and
Holstein in Ireland.
The Kerry cow is black, sometimes with a little white on the udder.
She is of dairy type, well ribbed with fine bone. She has character,
is alert and light on her feet. Cows weigh 350 to 450 kgs depending
on the type of land on which they are kept. The cows enjoy a long
useful life, still strong and calving regularly at 14 and 15 years
of age. They are extremely hardy and will out winter quite happily
even under low feeding. They are very adaptable and can be kept in a
wide range of conditions. Kerry cows have recorded 305day average
milk yields of between 4000-5000 kg at 4% fat.
In order to maintain or increase the number of Kerry cattle in
Ireland a number of schemes are available to help breeders that keep
these animals. A premium of €76 is payable per calf registered in
the herd books subject to certain restrictions. In addition under
the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme participants are eligible
for a payment of €216 per animal per annum. In addition semen has
been collected from a number of bulls over the last number of years.
Herdbook: Kerry Cattle Society, Cahernane, Killarney, Co. Kerry.