IHC on the hunt for 900 cows pledged in farming fundraiser

Kiwi charity IHC is on the hunt for 900 cows pledged to it from farmers around the country.

For more than three decades the charity, which helps people with intellectual disabilities, has had support from farmers who donate a calf which is sold, with proceeds going to the organisation.

But this year COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works for the charity, which is now desperately trying to track down hundreds of animals pledged to it before the pandemic hit.

Proceeds from the organisation's Calf and Rural Scheme, which has run for more than 35 years, go to supporting people with intellectual disabilities and their families in rural communities. 

But the fundraising efforts have had a tough time in recent years.

First it was the outbreak of cattle disease M bovis and now COVID-19.

Fundraising efforts were hit hard in 2018 when profits from the scheme were halved due to M bovis. The charity normally collects more than $1 million but with the cattle disease bringing tough conditions for farmers and causing logistical issues around transporting the donated animals, the organisation said it only earned around half of that.

IHC national fundraising manager Greg Millar says just as things were coming right after M bovis, COVID-19 hit.

"Just before COVID-19 we were following up with the very, very generous farmers that support IHC, with people with intellectual disability, and they were ready to get many of these calves off to sale, but then COVID-19 shut all the sale yards," Millar told RNZ on Friday. 

"Some of the farmers are just realising now that we're putting out this reminder again that they've got calves that are out there - well they're not calves anymore, they're yearlings - that are still out on the farms. 

"So it would be wonderful if they could locate where those animals are and send them on to sale, which would be fantastic for IHC."

He estimated the disruption had cost the charity over $200,000 so far.