Is Millbawn Polly Ireland’s oldest pedigree cow?

Currently owned by Sandra and Alan Coote and residing on the family farm near Virginia, Co. Cavan, is a 22 year-old pedigree Hereford cow Millbawn Polly. Polly, who revels in being at the centre of family life, even features in her owners’ wedding photographs.

When Millbawn Polly was born on February 3, 1997, on the farm of John and Myrtle Bogan in Coolarty, Co. Longford, few would have imagined that 22 years later this bovine would still be in great health and well able to enjoy her daily scoop of ration.

Millbawn Polly has enjoyed quite an interesting life, Sandra said. “She was sold in-calf to another Co. Longford Hereford breeder, the late William Jones from Creagh, Kenagh.

Here she spent the next 14 years and produced 13 calves including a set of twins. Many of these calves did very well in the show ring and Polly herself was champion Hereford at Longford agricultural show on a few occasions.

A conversation between Sandra and William Jones at her father John’s wake that progressed to Hereford breeding resulted in Sandra offering to purchase Polly back to rejoin the recently re-established Millbawn Hereford herd.

A few weeks later Sandra and her son Eoin visited the Jones farm and a purchase price was agreed. When Polly arrived back, she had just reached her 16th birthday.

That spring, knowing that age was not on their side, Sandra and Alan took the decision to flush Polly and she duly delivered 10 grade one embryos. Six resulted in pregnancies and produced three male and three female calves.

Polly, after this, produced her last calf naturally before going into retirement on the farm. Polly is very much the farm pet and with her last calf spent three days at the National Ploughing Championships promoting the Moocall stand.

With her natural quiet temperament; a promise to the late William Jones that she would be well minded; and her history, it is no surprise that Millbawn Polly is enjoying the good life, seeing out her remaining days on the family farm.

“One question remains,” said Sandra, who posed alongside Polly on her wedding day. “Is she currently the oldest living pedigree cow in Ireland?”