Unfortunately, the calf export trade has been disrupted again this week as poor weather conditions at sea continue.

Sailings with calves to European destinations are expected to go ahead today, February 27, but those which were due to take place this weekend, have been cancelled.

Taking a look at the figures, this year’s calf exports are significantly behind this time last year – likely attributed to the on-going adverse weather conditions.

Up to the week ending February 23, some 10,094 dairy calves (between zero and six-weeks) have been exported live from Ireland to European destinations.

However, in the same period last year (up to the week ending  February 24), some 19,422 dairy calves were exported to European countries; this represents a fall of 9,328 head on last year or a decrease by almost 50%.

Looking at the destinations so far for this year, the Netherlands and Spain are the chief buyers of Irish dairy-origin calves; but Italy has also been an importer of a small amount of dairy origin calves this year.

The number of dairy calves exported to Spain stands at 3,361 head, down from 6,461 calves in 2019 – a fall of 3,100 head.

Country-by-country calf exports (up to the week ending February 23, 2020):
  • Netherlands: 6,385 head (6,360 male and 25 female);
  • Spain: 3,361 head (3,341 male and 20 female);
  • Italy: 350 head.

Likewise, the number of dairy calves exported to the Netherlands – so far this year – has also fallen, from 9,842 head in 2019, to just 6,385 calves in the same period this year – a decrease of 35%. Italy has also imported some 348 dairy origin calves so far this year.

Taking a look at last year’s European destinations, the Netherlands and Spain were the biggest importers of Irish calves, but Poland, Italy and Belgium also proved popular destinations.

Regarding Poland, the number of dairy calves that were exported live to Polish shores – this time last year – reached 828 head. Similarly, the number of dairy calves exported to Italy was 1,416 head.