There will not be excessive numbers of black and white bull calves coming on to the Irish market this spring, according to Seamus Scallan, the owner of Wicklow Cattle Company.

“That’s because many dairy farmers put sweeper Hereford and Angus bulls in with their cows earlier than normal during the 2014 breeding season,” he said.

“We are supplying the Spanish market with black and white bull calves up to six weeks of age. These are perfectly suited for rosé veal production: Angus and Hereford crosses are not. This is because they put on too much fat cover, too early.”

As a consequence, Scallan believes all of these additional coloured calves will be reared and finished as beef on Irish farms.

“I am not sure if this is the beginning of a breeding trend within the dairy sector or a one-off decision taken by dairy farmers in light of the pending super levy threat that was in the air last year.

“And, of course, that threat is even larger this time around. The other consequence of this is a significant fall-off in the number of replacement black and white heifers coming through the system. And this may well have an impact on future milk output levels in Ireland.”

The Wicklow Cattle Company exports 1,500 black and white bull calves to Spain on a weekly basis, by way of a stop-off in Cherbourg. Calves leaving Ireland will be in Barcelona within 54 hours of departing this country. Scallan’s team is also exporting 150 calves from Northern Ireland on a fortnightly basis.

“We see tremendous scope to expand the level of business we do in Northern Ireland. All our calves are processed at a new export assembly centre on the outskirts of Dungannon in Co Tyrone,” he said.