Bord Bia figures show live exports up by almost 60,000

Figures from Bord Bia show that Ireland’s live exports of beef increased by almost a third in 2018, predominately because of increased calf trade.

Speaking at Bord Bia’s Meat Marketing Seminar 2018, Joe Burke – the organisation’s livestock manager – revealed that live exports of cattle increased from around 188,000 head in 2017 to 246,000 head in 2018 for an increase of almost 60,000 head.

The margin of the increase was, as Burke explained, largely down to an increased trade in calves, with Ireland shipping almost 160,000 head, for an increase of around 50% on 2017 figures.

The Bord Bia Meat Marketing Seminar was held at the Killashee Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare today (Friday, January 11).

In terms of the destinations of those shipments, the market that saw the largest increase in live trade with Ireland was Spain, which took over 90,000 head from Irish exporters, almost doubling its 2017 figures.

Burke also went into detail on the breed make-up of the exports.

“Most of this animals were Friesian bull calves, with some also being beef-cross calves and indeed even weanlings as we went later into the year,” he explained.

The market that saw the largest decline in trade with Ireland was, predictably, Turkey, as a result of the “political and economic situation there, and a significant depreciation of its currency”, according to Burke.

National herd

In his 15-minute address to the seminar, Burke also highlighted the current trends in the supply numbers in the national herd.

The national dairy herd was expanded by 50,000 animals, with numbers of suckler cows going in the opposite direction by a similar amount.

Burke used the calf registration figures to emphasise this point:

Overall calf registrations to suckler cows declined by 45,000 head, while calf registrations to dairy increased by 40,000.

He added: “This results in a net decline of a slight 5,000 overall. This is the first time in recent years that we’ve seen an overall decline in calf registrations.”