The Bilberry Goats Heritage Trust
A local family together with neighbours and friends formed a community conservation group called the Bilberry Goats Heritage Trust in the year 2000. The local ((Foley) family members had fed the goats for three generations in the winter months, as it became a tradition for them to do so.
The Trust nominated a Volunteer to act as keeper of the goats with regard to the regulations issued by the Department of Agriculture. This requirement is solely for the purposes of disease control. It is issued to the person acting as the keeper of the animals and does not infer ownership of lands or any animals tested or kept under that herd number.
The Trust members set up a feeding and veterinary care programme, to help conserve and save the herd from extinction by protecting the animals and their habitat.
The feeding programme consisted of fruit, vegetables and grain (which was gratefully paid for by the Foley family) as the animals had very poor nutrition due to the erosion of their habitat.
Over the years the area of land the herd grazed had been severely reduced. This had led to a significant decrease in the population of the herd. In the year 2000 there were 7 goats left on the habitat. The animals were in a severe state of malnutrition, were worm ridden and their coats were ragged and clumped. The animals were stressed due to the constant threat of predators, both animal and human. Part of their habitat was being used for dumping by a local industry.
The Trust's patron the late Philomena Lynott was proactive in cleaning up the habitat. When visiting the herd, she was appalled to find dead new born kids with nannies (does) lying on a hill of rubbish, on the habitat. She immediately went to the then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Mr. Bertie Ahearn and told him about the situation. The next day the area was cleared of rubbish.
The Bilberry area contains minerals which sustain the herd as a Landrace breed and gives them their unique ‘look’ which is different to any other herd in Ireland/Europe/World.
The herd’s conservation requirements are sufficient land to roam and graze, both for their nutritional needs and to avoid becoming stressed/malnourished through lack of habitat. This is the only way this unique herd of goats will survive, for the people of Waterford, Ireland and the world for generations to come.
Members and volunteers of the Trust worked over and beyond the call of duty to care for the herd. The Trust are dedicated to the conservation of the Bilberry Goat Herd. The Trust is supported in this endeavour by Waterford City & Co. Council, The Heritage Council, ESB Networks, Department of Agriculture. Waterford Area Partnership and by the generosity of the local community.