Cork farmer sending herd to sanctuary for a comfortable retirement

A Cork farmer has made the unusual decision to give his dairy herd a retirement in an animal sanctuary instead of sending them to the slaughterhouse, writes Amy Ryan.

70 cows are set to head to Hillside Animal Sanctuary in the UK where they will live out their days rather than going to a slaughterhouse.

Hillside Animal Sanctuary was founded by Wendy Valentine to help and campaign for animal's care and “bring public awareness to the millions of animals suffering every day in the intensive factory farming industry.”

Wendy has been arranging the trip with the farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous to the public.

Joseph Ahearne Murphy from Charlie's Equine Rescue with the herd

“How could I send them to slaughter when there is this option for them? After all these years, they deserve more from me and they are very bonded as a herd,” said the Cork man.

The herd has cows of all ages and they are said to be very supportive of each other. The herd waits for the older cows while they are moving fields, showing how emotionally bonded they are. The herd shows its support to a young calf, who occasionally suffers with epileptic fits, by circling the calf until the fits stop.

“I can retire with peace of mind now, knowing they will live out their days together.”

This is the first ever dairy herd to leave a farmyard in Ireland to retire to a sanctuary.

It is notably unusual for a farmer to choose this option for the herd, who would have fetched a high price if he had sent them to the slaughterhouse.

Sharon Shannon with Dove

Some of the cows are in calf, so the offspring will be born in the sanctuary.

“Why shouldn’t they retire with me?’ he asked. ‘They deserve it after all their hard work over the years,” said the Munster farmer.

The farmer is said to be very emotionally attached to the herd, who he has individually named, and made the decision to send them to the sanctuary because “he couldn’t watch them going to the slaughter house.”

He has other animals on his farm which will also be sent to the sanctuary including sheep, geese and ponies.

Sharon Shannon with Dove

Charlie’s Equine Rescue, which is anti-slaughter, is coordinating the entire transport to Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

Sharon Shannon, Irish musician, recently visited the farmer after she learned of the farmer’s “noble and admirable decision”.

She said: “These beautiful animals will now go to a sanctuary instead of being sold for slaughter or becoming victims of live export. This is an awakening example of how compassion and kindness has won over in a world full of greed.”

She spent some time with the herd and played them a few tunes on the accordian.


There is a Go Fund Me campaign to raise the necessary funds to ensure this farmer’s wish comes true for him and his much loved and cared for herd.


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