Judging from the positive discussions with the ESK (Turkish Meat and Milk Board), it is clear Turkey has an import requirement for 500,000 head of live cattle each year, according to IFA national livestock chairman Angus Woods.

Speaking from the Turkish capital Ankara, Woods said: “Based on the discussion we had, Ireland could supply up to 100,000 head of this requirement on an annual basis.”

This week in Ankara, both Bord Bia and the IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) met with the director general of ESK, Ethem Kalin, and the director general of the Department of Agriculture, Salih Turgay Isik, along with live cattle importers to discuss the the live export trade from Ireland to Turkey.

There is currently a number of consignments being assembled for Turkey by Irish exporters, with further shipments anticipated over the coming months.

So far this year, almost 17,000 Irish cattle have been exported to the Turkish market; this follows shipments of almost 20,000 head in autumn 2016, the IFA explained.

Woods said the Turkish authorities recognised the high quality of Irish livestock and praised the shipments they had received from Ireland, saying: “Turkey wants to develop the trade with Ireland and it is very important that this is fully facilitated in every way.”

The chairman added: “We discussed how we can increase supplies from Ireland by matching our seasonal production with the Turkish specification requirements. We also discussed various issues around weight, age and quarantine requirements.”

Woods said the delegation discussed all aspects of animal welfare with the official veterinarians in the Department of Agriculture and it is clear that this is a very important issue for the Turkish authorities.

Joe Burke, livestock manager with Bord Bia made a presentation to the Turkish authorities on the beef and livestock sector in Ireland. He emphasised the high quality of the progeny from the Irish suckler beef herd and the work at farm level to further improve genetics.

Turkey has also become a key market for exports of Irish beef genetics, taking an estimated 400,000 AI straws from Ireland this year.


The government-owned Meat and Milk Board (ESK) issues the tenders to supply live cattle to the Turkish market. In the meeting with Bord Bia and the IFA, the ESK reportedly explained that 60% of animals are currently being imported from South America – from Brazil and Uruguay in particular.

The remainder are largely supplied by European countries, although imports from France continue to be restricted on account of the Bluetongue disease, the ESK added.

It emphasised that they have specific import requirements for three categories of animals. The majority of Irish animals supplied to-date have been young bulls for finishing.

These must be under 12 months of age, less than 300kg in weight and need to undergo a 21-day quarantine period before export. High-quality heifers are also in demand for breeding, as are finished bulls ready for slaughter in the Turkish market.