No change is expected to current calf export regulation ahead of spring 2020, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed.
As such, it is understood that the calf export age limit – which currently stands at 14 days from birth – will remain unchanged.
In response to queries from AgriLand on the steps that the Department of Agriculture is taking to mitigate mounting concerns over the incoming deluge of dairy calves next spring, a spokesperson for the department explained its position on ferry capacity, the lairage situation in France and its emphasis on animal welfare.
The spokesperson noted that while the sale and export of animals – including the availability of ferry capacity – is a matter for private enterprise, “it is clear from the experience of the last number of years that a key influencing factor in export capacity is the lairage situation in France”.
Continuing, the spokesperson added that the department understands there are “ongoing contacts” between the industry in Ireland and the French lairages in preparation for the export season ahead “with a view to optimising capacity”.
As part of its regulatory role, the spokesperson explained that the department “seeks to ensure the welfare of animals is protected whilst being transported”.
The legislative rules regarding the transport of animals are set out in Regulation EU No 1/2005 and the EU Commission has no immediate plans to amend these rules.
Responding to queries on capacity for new vessels to export calves next spring, the spokesperson said: “From the experience of the last number of years, the key focus remains on the lairage situation in France”.
Concluding, the spokesperson said: “The Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS) is in liaison with the main farming organisations and the Department of Agriculture is continuing its contacts with the French lairages in preparation for the export season ahead.”
Meanwhile, recent Bord Bia figures show that just over 189,000 dairy-origin calves were exported up to and including the week ending September 21, 2019 – with Spain and the Netherlands among the chief importers of dairy bull calves.