Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Calf export ship still waiting on green light

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE approval of a suitable ship to carry calf transport trucks to the Continent is still awaiting approval.

Department officials inspected a possible replacement vessel for the Stena Horizon last week but it is understood that difficulties with both ventilation and the stability of the ship were identified.

All sides have been working hard on the matter of a replacement vessel with expectations that a suitable replacement ship will be in place.

There have been fears expressed by exporters and the farm organisations that the loss of the Stena Horizon could cause huge disruption to the crucial calf-export trade.

The lively start to the calf trade in the marts continued this week with farmers rather than shippers to the fore at ringside.

Friesian bull prices ranged from €90/hd to €190/hd, with the shippers paying up to €120-130/hd for good lots but buying plainer calves for €75-100/hd.

Stena said they have not yet been able to meet the criteria for the highly specialised trade but are “working hard to find a suitable solution”.

It was also felt that the ship was possibly too small to handle the number of livestock trucks that would be using the route at the height of the calf export season in February and March. It has been suggested that Stena has identified a suitable vessel but that it is currently committed to an existing route.

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The Stena Line vessel, the Horizon, which normally services the Rosslare-Cherbourg route, is off-service for refurbishment from mid-February.

Ireland exported close to 100,000 calves in 2017, primarily to veal units in the Netherlands. However, Belgium and Spain have also taken significant numbers in the past. The trade is hugely important for the Irish livestock sector as it provides an essential outlet for bull calves from the dairy herd that would otherwise undermine beef prices if they were retained in the country and finished.

The IFA’s Angus Woods said it was vital that the calf export trade was not disrupted.

“Securing full market access during February and March is an absolute priority,” Mr Woods said.

At the marts, Jim Bushe said Friesian bull calves were scarce enough among the 200 head sold at New Ross Mart last Saturday.

He said three-week old Friesians made from €140/hd to €230/hd, with British Friesians securing the better prices.

Continentals out of Friesian cows were in strong demand, with three- to four-week old Charolais-cross bulls making up to €400/hd.

Good quality Hereford-cross bulls made up to €300/hd, with the middling-quality lots making €250-270/hd.


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