‘Dairy farmers must feed bull calves to improve export chances’

Dairy farmers need to feed their bull calves well prior to sale, to improve their chances of being exported out of the country, Seamus Scallan of the Wicklow Calf Company has said.

The Wicklow Calf Company (WCC), based in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, is embarking on one of its busiest periods, as weekly calf shipments are set to hit the 2,000-head mark in the coming weeks.

Speaking to Agriland recently, Scallan said both the Spanish and Dutch markets require well-fed calves and it is important that farmers don’t skimp on milk feeding prior to sale.

Already this year, WCC has exported approximately 1,900 Holstein Friesian bulls to markets such as Spain and the Netherlands.

Holstein Friesian bull calves being loaded on the farm last Saturday morning
Holstein Friesian bull calves being loaded for export

And a further shipment of 1,400 calves is expected to leave the company’s base in Mooreshill later this week.

In the coming weeks, the company expects to export about 2,000 calves on a weekly basis, with all of the calves shipped by the company being purchased directly from farmers.

Last Saturday, IFA National Livestock Chairman, Angus Woods visited the facility as the Scallan family were loading three truck loads of calves – one destined for Spain and the other two destined for Holland.


The IFA representative visited the farm following the announcement by the Department of Agriculture that the veterinary inspection fee payable on live exports of calves under three-months-of age was to be reduced to €1.20 per animal.

Woods said the IFA lobbied “long and hard” to get the reduced levy rate through and it took a “major push from all involved.”

“The reduced levy rates are a positive move and it will make the cost of doing business more affordable. The savings made will be significant over the course of the calving season and it should make it easier for exporters to do business,” he said.

Angus Woods and James Scallan examining a modified teat water feeder, which is necessary on trucks transporting calves to the Netherlands
Angus Woods and James Scallan examining a modified teat drinker, which is necessary on trucks transporting calves to the Netherlands

Woods explained that the move to reduce the levy from €4.80 to €1.20 per head is a very positive step for the live export trade, which is vital for price competition and market outcomes.

“IFA has prioritised the live export trade this year and worked hard to drive a strong calf export trade in particular.”

Like Seamus Scallan, Woods said calf health is very important and reminded farmers to ensure that only strong well-presented calves are presented for sale.