23% fall in the number of weanlings exported from Ireland this year – Bord Bia

There has been a sharp fall in the number of weanlings exported from Ireland so far this year, recent figures from Bord Bia show.

To the week ending April 9, the number of weanlings exported from Ireland dropped by nearly 23% or just over 1,000 head, compared to the same time in 2015.

According to Bord Bia, the Italian market is the main destination for Irish weanlings, but despite the decline in weanling export numbers, cattle shipments from Ireland to Italy are up by 1,546 head (39.4%).

However, the weanling export market is likely to remain difficult for the remainder of 2016, as the Italian cattle price has fallen below the Irish price.

Figures from the European Commission show that the prices paid for Italian R3 heifers during the week ending April 24 were 24c/kg lower than the price Irish farmers received for similar heifers.

According to Bord Bia, the fall in Irish weanling export numbers is due to the close beef price between Ireland and Italy, along with strong grass buyer demand for Irish cattle.

The strong grass buyer demand is making it difficult for export buyers to purchase suitable stock, as they are unable to compete with Irish store buyers.

Bord Bia also reports that the extra cattle coming from France this year are also likely to have an impact on the Irish weanling trade.

It expects an additional 100,000 cattle from France to be redistributed across Europe, because France has been restricted from exporting live cattle to Turkey, due to a Bluetongue outbreak.

And, this could possibly saturate the Italian cattle market, which will have a negative impact on Irish cattle exports to Turkey later in the year.