Capacity of lairages in France becoming key challenge to live export trade - Department

New ferry to increase calf export capacity to 80,000hd per month

Live shipping exports
Live shipping exports
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Concerns were raised about the capacity of lairages in France to cope with an anticipated record Irish calf exports this spring.

It also comes as the Department hopes the approval of a new ferry for live exports could increase the capacity to 80,000 calves per month.

Dr Paula Barry-Walsh Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine highlighted Lairage capacity in Cherbourg as a critical challenge for live exports despite it being increased in recent years from approximately 1,500 calves/day to 4,000 calves/day. 

She told members of the Oireachtais Agriculture Committee at a hearing yesterday that Department officials are in ongoing communication with the Irish exporters concerning the need for their co-operative management between each other to ensure that the lairage capacity at Cherbourg is optimised.

"The Department has told live exporters to make contact with their business partners in France to explore options around the increase of capacity at Cherbourg.

"Department officials continue to meet with Ferry companies to explore new routes to mainland Europe or carrying livestock on existing routes, to ensure that the greatest facilitation possible is afforded to livestock exporters in the important Spring period. 

"The establishment of an exporter representative body would be a useful development in improving planning and co-operation between exporters. "This would enhance their engagement with their French counterparts and especially with the existing owners of the facilities in Cherbourg, where additional capacity exists," she said.

It comes as a record number of dairy bred calves are expected to be born this spring as dairy farmers nationwide continue to expand their herds.

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Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill said it was his view that the market for dairy bred calves would be completely dependent on live exports this year. While,  Fine Gael TD, Tim Lombard noted that his local mart in Bandon Cork was expected to hold two calf sales per week during the spring.

New Ferry

The Department of Agriculture also expects a new ferry which it expects to begin sailing to France in late March will significantly increase capacity.

Rob Doyle, Dr Rob Doyle Senior Superintending Veterinary Inspector, said it is expected that the ferry will sail on a 48hr schedule and will increase capacity from 12,000 to 28,000 per week if all the lairage capacity is used.

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