ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher has warned suckler farmers to think twice before they castrate weanlings this year.

He said: “We have to ensure that our live export markets are fostered.  Generally, the trade for live exports is for young bulls not for steers.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a big increase in farmers who are thinking of squeezing suckler bulls.”

“I am concerned that farmers are looking for direction on what to do in terms of meeting market demands.  They are getting signals from meat factories that young bull beef is not wanted for key retail outlets but caution is required when dealing with advice from meat factories.”

“Castration may be an option for some cattle that are not suited for live exports but top quality continental breed cattle are best left entire in my view.   These cattle are suited for exports to Italy and other live export markets.  The Italian market for beef is improved compared to last year and we need to maximise exports to Italy.  Farmers need to ensure that the live export trade is viable rather than being totally dependent on Irish meat factories,” he concluded.