Up to 20,000 weanlings will be exported from Ireland to Turkey between now and Christmas, according to IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods.

Given the problems France is having with Bluetongue, the scope for this trade to continue well into 2017 is very significant, he said.

Woods confirmed that the exporting company involved, Viastar, is buying stock both in the marts and directly off-farm at the present time.

“All the farmers supplying cattle are happy with the prices on-offer and the way they are being dealt with. This is a good news story for the Irish livestock industry.

“Turkey is a premium market and one with significant potential for the future.”

Woods said that the first shipment of cattle that left Ireland were for direct slaughter in Turkey.

The cattle that follow will be finished on-farm in Turkey over the coming months. Department of Agriculture vets have visited the farms on which he cattle will be finished.

“They are very happy with the facilities that are available in Turkey.”

Woods said that the IFA has no financial interest in the current shipping contracts and its role has been to ensure that any problems that do arise can be sorted out as quickly as possible.

“I have no plans to visit Turkey myself, given that the systems put in place to facilitate the export of the cattle have worked well.”

Woods also confirmed that both the boats being used for the shipping contracts are both en route to Turkey.

“The buying of the cattle for the outstanding orders continues apace. Each of the animals bought must be quarantined for at least 21 days at the Export Centre at Crossakiel in Co Meath.

“As a result, cattle can only be moved on, no sooner than 21 days after the last animal making up the shipment arrives at the export centre.

“The team involved in the quarantine and shipping processes must be congratulated for the work they are doing.”