Additional calf lairage facilities increasingly likely in Cherbourg

Additional calf lairage facilities to provide space for up to 800 extra calves is looking increasingly likely for spring in the French port city of Cherbourg.

According to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), it is understood that preparations are already underway by the owner of one lairage facility in the French city to convert part of his premises, which had previously been dedicated to a cattle dealing enterprise, to calf accommodation.

Diggers have been brought in and construction work has begun to convert the premises with hopes voiced that the expanded facility will be ready for calves by mid-February, pending approval from French veterinary authorities.

The lairage owner in question currently has approval for 1,500 calf spaces but intends to increase this by over 50% to 2,300 spaces.

Irish calves are currently transported by ferry three times a week during the busy spring season; last year, some 4,500 calves per week could be held in the lairage in question.

A second lairage facility, with spaces for 2,900 calves, is in the same area, but it is understood that the owner of this has no plans to increase capacity.

Should the expanded premises get the all-clear from French veterinary authorities, combined throughput of more than 15,000 calves per week is possible, according to IFA sources.

Farm groups test the water in Cherbourg

Back in November, members of the IFA visited the two lairages in the Cherbourg area with representatives of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) and the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

Commenting at the time, IFA National Dairy Committee chairman Tom Phelan said that the IFA has developed a good relationship and kept in touch with the two operators since he and IFA president Joe Healy visited Cherbourg on two occasions last spring.