Exports of live calves are running over 13% or 10,000 head behind 2014, according to latest Bord Bia statistics.
To date over 65,000 calves have been exported from Ireland down from the over 76,000 exported in the same period in 2014.
Traditional calf export markets such as Spain have taken smaller shipments to date. Shipments to Spain are down 19% so far this year when compared to the same period in 2014.
Coinciding with the fall in calf exports has been a significant increase in the number of dairy calves born on Irish farms this year.
Dairy calves continue to be registered in high numbers with figures from the ICBF showing that dairy calf registrations are running 10% ahead of last year.
To date some 988,042 dairy bred calves have been registered with the ICBF, this compares to 891,144 at the same stage last year.
The figures mean some 96,878 extra calves have been registered by dairy farmers this year.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns has said that a critical factor for the beef sector going forward is a strong live export trade for dairy calves.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said the decisions farmers make regarding calves from the dairy herd in spring 2015 will be crucial in the years ahead.
“What happens this spring will have a significant impact for farmers selling cattle in two years’ time,” he said.
According to Burns, the IFA is very clear that we need to have a strong live export trade for price competition and particularly for male calves from the dairy herd.