A consignment of approximately 3,000 Irish bulls will be loaded today, destined for Turkey.

The shipment, organised by Purcell Brothers, will be loaded from Belview Port under the supervision of Department of Agriculture vets.

Commenting on the shipment, ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan said the prospects for live exports to once again offer real competition to processors are improving.

The ICSA understands that all of these bulls are under 12 months of age and weigh between 220kg and 330kg.

“Prices paid for the bulls varied from between €2.10 and €2.20 for Angus and Hereford animals and between €2.70 and €2.80 for continentals,” Phelan said.

“Another two boats will leave in May, this time taking cattle up to 16 to 17 months so, with the age profile rising, we will hopefully see some real competition for the factories.

Purcells were the mainstay for competition in the eighties and nineties so it’s good to see them back.

Phelan added: “The ICSA is pushing to develop new markets for live exports, particularly for the 500kg to 600kg category to include Friesian cattle.

“This is the best strategy we have to give producers more options and to ease the stranglehold of the processors,” he said.

Turkey becoming an important market for Irish cattle

The Turkish market has grown in importance for Irish suckler farmers since the first boat load of Irish animals departed for the Middle Eastern market back in the autumn of 2016.

Last year, Meath-based livestock exporter Viastar shipped more than 19,000 cattle to Turkey. The consignments included both finished and weanling bulls.

And, in a separate deal, earlier this year a consignment of 1,564 Irish heifers were sent to the country.

It is predicted that an additional 100,000 extra finished cattle will come on stream in 2017. Increased exports this year are necessary to reduce the likelihood of a further increase in cattle supplies occurring in 2018.