The number of Irish cattle exported by live export means continues to fall, the latest figures from Bord Bia show.

To the week ending September 24, just over 110,000 cattle were exported from Ireland, a fall of 35,364 head or 24.3% on the corresponding period in 2015.

Live cattle exports to Northern Ireland were worst affected, with 20,167 fewer cattle crossing the border so far this year.

In 2015, 38,494 cattle crossed the border to the north, but so far this year just over 18,300 have made the journey from Irish to northern farms, this is a fall of 52.4%.

Meanwhile, figures from Bord Bia also show that the number of live cattle exports to Britain fell by 2,713 head, a drop of 39.1%.

This fall coincides with a period of exchange rate volatility, which has made Irish cattle more expensive to northern and British buyers.


Source: Bord Bia

The limited marketability of Irish beef in the UK has also contributed to the fall in exports, as major retail customers in the north will only purchase beef from animals that have been born, reared and finished on UK farms.

Figures from Bord Bia also show that the total number of cattle exported to continental Europe fell by 11.41% this year, with exports to the Netherlands posting a reduction of 38.5% of 16,781 head, while exports to Spain have jumped by 21.5% or 6,097 head compared to 2015 levels.

According to Bord Bia, the majority of cattle exported to both Spain and the Netherlands are calves and these two countries are the main export destination for Irish dairy bull calves.

Most of these calves are sold into the veal market.

Official figures also show a reduction in exports to non-EU countries, with exports falling 1,513 head or 42.7% to date on last year’s levels, while exports to Turkey remain the one positive of this fall.

In total, its shows that Turkey has imported 1,694 head of cattle so far this year.

The opening of the Turkish market was welcomed by many industry commentators, as it was seen as an opportunity to relieve the pressure on the weekly kill.

But to bring live cattle exports in line with 2015, at least 35,364 head of Irish cattle must be exported to Turkey to counteract falling exports to Northern Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands.