Cattle buyers in Northern Ireland are making their presence felt at mart rings around the Republic this year, as over 50,000 head of cattle have been exported to Northern Ireland so far in 2021.

According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), a total of 51,839 cattle have been exported from the Republic of Ireland (RoI) to Northern Ireland in the first 34 weeks of this year.

To put this into context, in the same time period of 2019, 20,897 cattle were exported north – and last year, this figure stood at 39,531 head of cattle.

This year’s export levels to Northern Ireland is up by over 12,300 head of cattle, or 31% when compared to the same time period as last year.

The majority of beef cattle going north are forward-store type heifers and steers, as well as cows that are going for either direct slaughter or further production.

The growing trend of finished and forward-store cattle going north is without a doubt adding bite to the cattle trade this year, as competition increases for well-fleshed cows, heifers and steers at marts across the RoI this year.

Looking to the final quarter of the year, this trend is expected to continue – and into next year also – something that Irish mart managers and beef farmers alike are glad to see continuing.

While cattle exports to Northern Ireland have grown this year, overall cattle exports from Ireland have in fact, declined from Ireland this year.

The most significant drop can be seen in the weanling export category which has dropped by 5,279 head, to 11,729 head of weanlings exported so far this year.

This can be attributed to a strong home market in Ireland currently, and European customers struggling to get value in the Irish weanling market.