All animals leaving from Ireland are transported by air or land to their new homes in the developing world.
While airlifting can be more costly than boat and road haulage, it is the preferred method of transportation for Bóthar animals, as it is the quickest method.
It takes a wide range of skilled people to organise a lift of dairy animals from Ireland to Eastern Europe and Africa. Preparations before each lift start months in advance here in Ireland as well as in the recipient countries.
Every person's involvement is crucial; the donating farmer, the vet, the Department of Agriculture official, the customs officer and the handlers; but one you might not be as familiar with is the role of Bóthar's own ‘Cow-Boys’. With each animal lift, one of Bóthar's ‘Cow-Boys’ accompanies the animals as a groom and ensures their safety and comfort during the travel.
When we are conducting airlifts, usually 70 heifers travel together as a group. The interior of a large cargo plane is specially adapted, having purpose- built pens and absorbent flooring installed.
The cattle are comfortable during their journey are not in any way perturbed by the flight. On arrival, they are again checked by the local veterinary staff. They will spend some time resting in quarantine and will then be distributed to their new families who have been eagerly awaiting their arrival.
John Fitzgerald, a farmer from Co. Clare, is our groomsman. John started volunteering to assist with Bóthar heifer collections in the nineties and he has since gone on to become one of our most valued ‘Cow-Boys’.
During the flight I spend my time going from pen to pen checking that the animals are comfortable and that the temperature in the plane is nice and cool.
Once the plane lands I must then present all of the documentation for the animals to the Department of Agriculture and the customs department.
We carefully unload the animals and then transport them to the quarantine area, where they stay, before being distributed to their new families and homes. I absolutely love this aspect of Bóthar's work and I am privileged to get the animals safely to their new homes. There's a lot of trust involved.
We can transport many more animals by land and we use this transport method when we are sending animals to Romania, Albania and Kosovo. The journey is staggered with stopovers in animal hotels know as "lairage", where they are rested and fed safely throughout the journey. Bóthar always use a reputable Irish animal transportation company to oversee the journey.
For further information on Bóthar's animal welfare policy and any queries on transportation please phone Pat Mullins on 061 414142.