The Turkish live export market has very specific requirements for weanlings, according to the ICSA Suckler Chairman John Halley.

The outlook for live exports is starting to look a bit more positive, with hopes growing that Turkey will be a key customer for cattle in 2017, he said.

But he warned farmers that weanlings have to meet a range of criteria, in order to meet the demands of exporters sourcing cattle for the Turkish market.

Farmers should be aware that the Turkish market has a very specific requirement for weanlings.

“Animals must be under twelve months on arrival, so agents assembling stock will be looking for animals under 11 months old in some cases.

“Also, weanlings have to be properly dehorned or they will not be considered. The maximum weight is about 330kg,” he said.

In 2016, close to 20,000 head of Irish cattle were exported to Turkey, official figures show. These shipments were made up of a mixture of weanlings and finished bulls.

The first shipment of live cattle to Turkey departed Irish shores in September last year.

Irish exports received clearance in June 2016, following a pro-active and detailed engagement between the Department of Agriculture and its Turkish counterparts and an inspection by a Turkish veterinary delegation in May.

It is believed that Turkey has an import requirement for up to 400,000 head of live cattle annually.

Meanwhile, the ICSA Suckler Chairman believes the growth and expansion of the live export trade is key to ensuring that beef farmers can earn a viable living in the future.

“The reality is that the only future for farmers is to see as many live exports as possible,” he said.

Calf exports to the Netherlands have picked up and are running at almost double the level of last year, while Spain is also taking significant numbers of calves, he added.