Cattle exporter highlights challenges facing hauliers to a post-Brexit UK

The exporting of Irish dairy cows and heifers to the UK has been an increasingly popular market in recent years.

Last week, AgriLand spoke with one of the leading dairy cow exporters, David Clarke, who is managing director of based in Co. Westmeath. He explained the difficulty new exporting regulations are creating on the exporting of live cattle into the mainland UK market.

Part of the operations at includes the sourcing and purchasing of dairy females for UK clients from Irish farms. These females are then exported to both Northern Ireland and mainland UK.

However, operations will now face being slowed down and delayed due to these new post-Brexit rules and additional paperwork requirements.

“Our first load of in-calf dairy heifers went this week to England under the new Brexit regulations.

“The biggest issue we are going to have is that the cattle have to be in a stable herd for at least 40 days before they can be exported – compared to 30 days under previous export rules.

“This results in additional forward planning for export deals. Even with a dealer number, it will not get us past these new regulations.”

Additional changes in regulations

These are not the only changes to exporting guidelines, as David explained:

“There is a significant increase of compliance requirements including customs export documentation, transport documentation and customs import documentation, which has to be completed by us as exporters.

“Our customers in England now has to apply for a customs number that we have to include on our health certificates which we send with our animals.

“The trucks that we have now have to be certified for driving in the UK and the drivers, or whoever is in charge of the animals, has to complete a handling course in the UK.

We want to ensure that we can continue to deliver high-quality livestock to our longstanding customer base in the UK as efficiently as possible. We could export close to 3,000 head of dairy cows annually.

“As the systems are new, everybody is learning how to navigate the additional compliance. However, we would expect that this will become part of the course within a few weeks.

“Although, if exporting rules to the UK don’t change somewhat, it could impact our dairy cow export trading.”

The livestock exporters also have clients in Northern Ireland, but David states it’s more or less business as usual in the movement of cattle to the North.

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Dairy cow trade for the year ahead

Speaking with David about the predicted outlook for the export trade of dairy females to Britain, he stated:

I think there is a good year ahead for export trade of dairy cows into the UK, once these new regulations doesn’t hamper it.

“The demand is there and prices of dairy cows are very good in Ireland for UK purchasers. We are competitive going into this market – because the prices for dairy cows all over the rest of Europe are getting more expensive.

“Once we remain as an attractive market for these buyers, the trade should continue.”