Exporters awaiting ferry ‘green light’ before moving calves

Calf exporters are battling the elements in a bid to collect calves prior to this weekend. Storm Emma’s snow accumulations resulted in ferry crossings being abandoned on Thursday.

However, exporters are monitoring the situation closely and are awaiting to see if the ferry crossing from Rosslare to Cherbourg goes ahead as planned on Saturday (March 3).

A spokesperson for Stena Line said the Stena Carrier was cancelled yesterday (March 1) and “it is (weather permitting) due to set sail again on Saturday, March 3”.

Those involved in the trade have told AgriLand that they will travel with calves if the ferry is given the “green light” to travel on Saturday.

The importance of calf exports to the Irish beef industry cannot be underestimated. Last year, over 100,000 calves were shipped from Ireland. Buyers in Spain, Holland and Belgium purchased approximately 89,000 calves in 2017.

Exports up 12.7%

Up to the week ending February 17, some 13,042 cattle were exported from Ireland – up 12.7% of 1,469 head on the corresponding period in 2017.

Weanling, store and calf exports are all in a positive position. An additional 859 weanlings have been exported from Ireland this year, store shipments are up by 186 head and calf exports have climbed by 1,676 head or 29.7%.

Export growth has also been witnessed in Spain and the Netherlands – two of the main markets for Irish calves – up by 36.6% (925 head) and 19.2% (685 head) respectively.

However, cattle movements to Northern Ireland – a valuable market for finished stock in previous years – are back by 41.4% or 1,225 head when compared to the corresponding period in 2017.

Irish live cattle exports:
  • Weanlings: 1,607 head (+859 head or +53.5%);
  • Stores: 1,122 head (+186 head or +16.6%);
  • Calves: 5,643 head (+1,676 head or +29.7%);
  • Finished cattle: 3,201 head (-1,252 head or -39.1%);
  • Total: 11,573 head (+1,469 head or +12.7%).

In other export news, Viastar – the Meath-based exporter – is currently looking for bulls weighing 400-800kg. The exporter is mainly looking for Angus and Hereford stock, AgriLand understands.

In addition, a boat carrying over 1,000 Friesian bulls left Greenore Port, Co. Louth, for Libya on Sunday, February 25. Organised by Supreme Livestock, the consignment is expected to arrive in the Libyan port of Khoms during the first week of March.

This was the first shipment of Irish cattle to leave for Libya this year. Last year, some 1,830 Irish cattle were exported to Libya; down from the 2,162 shipped the year previous.