Bilberry Got Heritage Trust
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Bilberry Goat Herd

 

History of the Bilberry Goat Herd

The Bilberry Goat Herd originated when a number of Huguenots (French Protestants) who were persecuted for their faith, fled France and came to Waterford to live in around 1700. When they arrived at the Quays in Waterford, they brought the goats which they had on board ship, up to Bilberry Rock to graze on common land.

In the 19th century, when times were hard, the women of Ballybricken came up to Bilberry Rock, via the Lady's Walk in Bilberry, to milk the goats. The milk was used to feed their families and the surplus was sold to make some money for the family. A small industry grew from selling Bilberry Goat milk. But as the people grew more prosperous, the need for goat's milk died off.

The area of land that the goats grazed stretched from Guinness Brewery to Cody's Pond, which was where they got their water from, on Quarry Road. Over the years, the area of land which the goats grazed has been gradually eroded by development. This led to a significant decrease in the population of the herd In the year 2000 there were only seven goats left in the herd. The famous Bilberry Goat Herd was in great danger of dying out.

In 2002, members of the British Feral Goat Society, Dr.Shirley Goodyer and Dr. Ray Werner accompanied by Robert-Jan Prins, who is a Dutch Goat Breeder of the Landrace breed of goats, came to Bilberry to look at the herd. They were amazed to see a primitive ancient herd still living in the wild, with their long shaggy coats and long crooked horns, which were different in shape to any other herd of wild goats they had seen in Europe.

The goat experts have said that the herd is of the Landrace breed of goats. The place where the animals are kept is critical for the survival of the herd. Bilberry Rock contains unique minerals which have sustained the herd down through the years. They must also have sufficient land to roam and graze. This is the only way this unique Bilberry Goat Herd will survive in an urban setting, for the people of Waterford City and County and for generations to come.

© 2009- 2012 | Bilberry Goat Heritage Trust | c/o Rockmount, Gracedieu, Waterford, Ireland