Richard McKitterick tells us how he got Bagot goats across the Irish Sea, and other stories!

Where to start? I think I have my father to blame as we always had a goat or two at home when I was growing up. So when Itook over at Tannaghmore in 2013 and was looking for some new breeds for the farm, goats were on my shopping list. In my search, I stumbled across the Bagot and I must admit I had never heard of them until then.

Fast forward to the Balmoral Show 2014 where I met Ruth Dalton from RBST who was then the N Ireland Field Officer. This conversation set me off on two paths: the quest for RBST Farm Park status and a few leads on where you might pick up some Bagot goats. Next stop was to contact Nick Bohemia of the Bagot Goat Society, who told me they were very interested in getting some Bagots to N Ireland due to our geographical location and the added biosecurity offered to the breed but having a herd based off the mainland. The only problem was that anytime Bagots came up for sale, they were in ones or twos and the cost of transport and quarantining just didn't add up.

We then jump to May 2017 and the RBST Conservation Farm Park meeting at Croxteth Hall Liverpool and another conversation with Ruth in the car on the way from the airport when the topic of Bagot goats raised its head again. After the meeting, Ruth sent out an email regarding livestock for sale and livestock wanted. A few days later I received an email froem Sara Bailey from Canterbury Oast Trust and Rare Breeds Centre in Ashford Kent informing me that they had seven nannies for sale. Looking on the map, Ashford in Kent couldn't have been further away from Tannaghmore if we had tried. But seven nannies in one location was too good an opportunity to miss. Three Billies were also found at Coleg Cambria College, and Kingston Maurward College in Dorset.

This was the start of an undertaking we couldn’t' have completed without the help of RBST.  This was a combined effort by all three Field Officers - Ruth, Richard Broad and Tom Blunt plus Brian Kelly of the RBST NI Support Group.

The goats were due to leave for N Ireland on October 2017. This is when we hit a hurdle. Due to the fct none of the goats came from MV/CAE accredited herds, they were going to have to be isolated on site at Tannaghmore for six months. This led to some last-minute rushing around with our local DAERA office to get an isolation facility approved on our farm. Finally, with just hours to spare, the paperwork came through and the approval was granted which enabled the goats to start the final leg of their 600+ mile journey from Kent to Co Armagh NI.

Would we do it all again knowing what we know now? Yes! Seeing the first Bagots arrive in N Ireland was fantastic and hopefully, being off the mainland and in N Ireland, will make the breed a little more secure for the future - and I must say this was only possible with a lot of help from a lot of people.

You can find out more about Tannaghmore Rare Breeds Animal Farm here.