Calf exports increase by over 34,000 head on 2017 levels

There has been a huge increase in the number of calves exported from Ireland by live export means during the first five months of the year, figures from Bord Bia show.

Calf exports increased by more than 35% between January 1, 2018, and the week ending May 27, 2018.

Overall, there were 128,673 calves exported from Irish shores during 2018 so far; this is an increase of 34,345 calves compared to the 94,328 calves exported during the corresponding period in 2017.

Bord Bia figures also indicate that the total number of calves exported during the same period in 2015 and 2016 stood at 79,191 and 65,784 respectively.

In addition, there has also been a marked increase in the number of dairy calves registered so far this year. Figures from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) highlight that dairy calf births are up by 38,390 head on last year’s levels (week ending June 8).

Country-by-country breakdown

The majority of cattle exported to both Spain and the Netherlands are calves and these two countries are the main export destination for Irish dairy bull calves.

Collectively, some 95,598 calves were shipped to these countries so far this year; most of these calves are sold into the veal market.

During the first five months of the year, the number of calves exported to Spain increased by 13,470 head or 35% on the same period in 2017, Bord Bia figures show.

Calf exports to the Netherlands are currently running slightly ahead of 2017 levels. Some 43,525 calves left Ireland bound for the Netherlands up to May 27; this is a 2,898 head or 7% increase.

As of May 27, some 13,346 calves were exported to Belgium. This is an increase of 9,164 head increase on 2017 levels. In addition, 9,873 (up 2,341 head) calves were transported to Italian shores.

Meanwhile, there has also been an increase in the total number of calves shipped to both France and Northern Ireland so far this year; calf exports to these countries stand at 8,364 and 1,490 respectively.

Country-by-country calf export growth (week ending May 27, 2018):
  • Spain: 52,073 (+13,470 head or +35%);
  • Netherlands: 43,525 (+2,898 head or +7%);
  • Belgium: 13,346 (+9,164 head or +219%)
  • Italy: 9,873 (+2,341 head or +31%);
  • France: 8,364 (+5,935 head +244%);
  • Northern Ireland: 1,490 (+538 head or +57%).