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Hazel chases Big Bertha’s crown

George Kelly with Hazel and the new-born heifer. Image: Valerie O'Sullivan
George Kelly on his farm with Hazel and the new-born heifer. Image: Valerie O’Sullivan

MOVE over Big Bertha – there’s a new kid in town.

The stage is set for a battle of the bovines with a perky pretender to the throne eyeing up Bertha’s world’s oldest cow crown.

Jerome O’Leary’s legendary Droimeann cow lived to the ripe old age of 48 which was such a rare achievement that she was splashed across the pages of the Guinness Book of Records.

The black and white beauty, from Blackwater near Sneem, actually had the unique distinction of setting two world records as she also created a new breeding first, having given birth to an astonishing 39 calves.

There was a great outpouring of grief when Bertha finally made her way to the great cow barn in the sky in December 1993.

But a new kid on the block has now emerged to hog the limelight and move out of Bertha’s shadow.

Castlelough Hazel is causing quite a stir on the farm of George Kelly in Beaufort, Killarney and, at 20 years of age, she is believed to be the oldest breeding member of the rare Kerry Cattle herd in the world.

She gave birth to her first heifer in recent days after years of producing bulls and although the fresh-faced Hazel has some way to go to catch up to the legendary Bertha, she is well on the road to creating her own little bit of history.

George Kelly, who runs Hazel Fort Farm, is an expert animal breeder and current vice chairman of the Kerry Cattle Society.

He bought Hazel in 1994 from Miss Hilliard’s Castlelough Farm in Killarney and he has become quite attached to the 20-year-old.

“She’s a very prolific breeder and she’s very healthy,” he said.

Kerry Cow breeders from New York and Kansas visited George’s farm in recent weeks to see his great work with the herd and they were more than impressed by what they saw.

They were particularly taken with handsome Hazel’s longevity and placid nature.

The Kerry Cattle is a rare breed of dairy cow that is native to Ireland and it is believed to be one of the oldest breeds in the world.

Ironically, following her death, Big Bertha was stuffed by a professional taxidermist and is now on display on George Kelly’s farm, keeping a close eye on Hazel’s bid to moo-ve her off her pedestal.