Live cattle export: How much is it worth to the industry?

Calf exports witnessed a massive increase in 2018. Some 138,234 calves were exported from Ireland by live export means over the first six months of 2018, figures from Bord Bia indicate.

When we compare this with 2017, the number of calves exported from Ireland – to markets across Europe – jumped by 36,667 head between the week ending January 1 and the week ending July 8, 2018.

Speaking at the recent Teagasc and Bord Bia information evening – held in Co. Mayo – Bord Bia’s Damien Murray outlined how the live cattle export market is operating so far in 2018.

“Due to the dairy herd expansion, we have seen a huge development in the live cattle trade; these increases are all in relation to the calf trade,” he explained.

The calf live export trade is up this year and the big export destinations have been Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and France.

“Spain has always been a strong importer of Irish calves; their ease of access to the north African market has allowed this growth,” he added.

Touching on other international markets, he said: “Normally, a lot of our live exports to other markets happen during the second half of the year.

“Italy has always been a strong market for our weanlings; there has been a 15% increase in live cattle exports to this country this year so far. We expect to see this grow over the remainder of the year.”

Teagasc’s Ann O’Malley highlighted that live exports (including calves) are ahead of 2017 and that approximately 188,000 head of cattle were exported live last year. This is worth approximately €175 million to the industry, she said.

There has been a decrease in the number of live cattle exported to Northern Ireland so far this year when compared to the corresponding period in 2017; Ann outlined that the weakness in sterling has affected this market.


By now, it was expected that there would be more activity on the Turkish market front. While exporters have sourced bulls, that has been the height of it.

One prominent exporter told AgriLand that there has been a lot of inquiries from Turkish buyers, but no deals have been made. Currency issues are believed to be putting a halt to proceedings.

Exporters are confident that something will come eventually. It was originally hoped that the general election that took place in Turkey on June 24 would have a positive effect on some of these issues.

However, Viastar – the Meath-based exporting company – have a consignment of R-grading, continental bulls – weighing between 270-350kg – in quarantine since the week ending July 15.

During the week ending July 1, Viastar exported approximately 1,000 bulls to the same market.

Other export news

Two boatloads of cattle left Ireland bound for Libya last week. The consignment of bulls – both Friesians and continentals – departed from Co. Cork.

The boats – carrying approximately 3,500 bulls – were organised by Cork-based exporting company, Curzon Livestock.

Friesian bulls – weighing between 400kg and 500kg – along with continental bulls – weighing between 500kg and 600kg – were also shipped. In addition to the bulls, the exporter also shipped approximately 400 in-calf, Friesian heifers to Libyan shores.

The the company’s CEO – James Horgan – was happy with the shipments and hopes that this contract could form the basis of regular and consistent shipments of Irish cattle to Libya. He also told AgriLand that the company is in the process of negotiating contracts for the Turkish market.

The Sarah – a livestock-carrying vessel – left Co. Cork on Thursday, July 18 and the Atlantic M – another boat suitable for carrying livestock – departed for Libya on Saturday, July 21.