According to figures from the Department of Agriculture’s AIM system live exports of calves are up 12% so far this year and make up 65% of total live exports.

Examining the data from the department system Eoin Kelly, Business Analyst, Bord Bia said: “The principal destination for Irish calves continues to be continental Europe with the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain driving these exports. Exports to the Netherlands for the year to date show a 22% rise on last year’s levels. Belgium is showing a 3% increase in exports so far this year with Spain showing a 41% increase in live exports. Exports to Spain have been driven by a rise in live exports of calves of 40% on year previous levels with a preference for stronger calves which are reared for bull beef.”

Kelly also noted that live exports of cattle in general have increased for the year to date and are currently standing at around 127,000 head. This highlights an increase of 18% compared to the corresponding period last year. Latest figures show cattle exports of 4,118 head were recorded for the week ending 10th of May.

Kelly stated: “The number of cattle moved to Northern Ireland so far this year increased by 12% on last year’s results to almost 16,000 head, in spite of a decrease in demand for Irish-born cattle by UK beef processors. Similarly, exports to Great Britain have risen by 62% to 5,500 head, with finished cattle driving these exports. The number of animals exported to Italy has increased by 35%, to reach over 10,000 head with stores and weanlings driving the trade there.”

He added: “Year to date figures show a decline in the live export of weanlings by around 1,000 head. However this has been offset by a 31% and 61% rise in stores and finished cattle respectively.

In terms of international markets Kelly said: “Over 9,000 head of cattle has been exported to date this year, an 18% increase on last year. North Africa is the main destination internationally with Libya continuing to drive trade with numbers up 57% compared to 2013.”