Calf export update: The Dutch market leads the way

According to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), over 1.26 million calves have been registered on dairy farms up to and including the week ending May 24, 2019.

And, up to the week ending May 4, 2019, 143,000 calves have been exported live from Ireland to European destinations; this represents a 35,187 head or 32.6% increase on 2018 figures.

The following analysis is based on Bord Bia figures from January 1, 2019, up to and including the week ending May 4, 2019, and the corresponding period in 2018.

Firstly, we can see that the destinations are: Spain; the Netherlands; Belgium; Italy; France; and Poland.

As normal, the chief importers of Irish dairy calves have been Spain and the Netherlands and these markets have seen some level of growth so far in 2019. The number of calves exported to Spain stands at 49,880 head – up from 43,213 head in 2018 (an increase of 6,667 head or 15.4%).

However, the best performing market has been the Netherlands; the number of calves shipped to this country amounts to 70,839 head. That’s up from 39,133 head in the corresponding period of 2018 – a massive jump of 31,706 head or 81%.

Looking at Italy, the number of calves that were exported live to Italian shores stands at 15,463 head – an increase of 6,282 head or 68.4% when compared to the same period in 2018.

However, both the Belgium and French markets have recorded a decrease. The total number of calves exported live to France so far this year amounts to 5,478 head – a decrease of 1,552 head or 22.1%.

Supplies of calves to Belgium are down by 9,345 head or 77.7%, with the total calf count at just 2,682 head. It stood at 12,027 head for the same period in 2018.

The Polish market – which is a relatively new market for Irish calves – has imported 4,417 calves so far in 2019.

Country-by-country calf export growth (week ending May 4, 2019):
  • Spain: 49,880 (+6,667 head or +15.4%);
  • Netherlands: 70,839 (+31,706 head or +81%);
  • Belgium: 2,682 (-9,345 head or -77.7%);
  • Italy: 15,463 (+6,282 head or +68.4%);
  • France: 5,478 (-1,552 head -22.1%);
  • Poland: 4,417 (+4,417 head or +100%).

Other cattle

The total number of cattle exported up to and including the week ending May 4, 2019, stood at 172,505 head, according to Bord Bia figures. This is a 45,634 head or 36% increase on the number of cattle exported live during the same period in 2018.

The breakdown of each type of animal and the change from 2018 to 2019 is outlined in the table below.

Live cattle exports 2019:
  • Weanlings: 8,286 (+2,510 head or +43.5%);
  • Stores: 9,623 (+3,556 head or +58.6%);
  • Calves: 143,000 (+35,187 head or 32.6%);
  • Finished: 11,596 head (+4,381 head or 60.7%).