Farm Ireland

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Cattle exports to Turkey could be trebled claim IFA

Support measures on age and weight restrictions needed to drive trade

Live cattle exports soared 35pc last year to over 196,000 head. Stock image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Live cattle exports soared 35pc last year to over 196,000 head. Stock image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Ireland could export 100,000 cattle a year to Turkey if the market was more aggressively targeted, the IFA has claimed.

Turkish cattle buyers took around 30,000 head from Ireland in 2017 but the IFA’s livestock chairman, Angus Woods, said there was real potential to grow this figure significantly.

“IFA and Bord Bia visited this market and there is no doubt there is major potential for Irish live exports. Turkish feeders, which we met, were very complementary of the quality of stock from Ireland,” Mr Woods said.

While Bord Bia has suggested that export levels of 50,000 head were achievable this year, Mr Woods claimed that Ireland should be aiming to sell up to 100,000 head into the market in the future.

Mr Woods pointed out that Turkey imports 500,000 cattle each year, with around 200,000 supplied from Europe, and 300,000 head from South America.

He said Ireland had the potential to deliver far greater cattle numbers to Turkey, given the correct “support and encouragement”.

The tight specifications for the Turkish contracts — the cattle must be under 12 months of age and less than 300kg — seriously limited the number of suitable stock last year.

However, Mr Woods claimed the correct identification of stock for the market during the second half of the year could help overcome these drawbacks.

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Heavier bulls

Mr Woods pointed out that Third Country live exports got off to a positive start this year with 4,492 cattle exported. He said two boat loads have been shipped to Turkey, and another to Libya.

In addition, Mr Woods said exporters were currently buying heavier bulls for a shipment in April.

Meanwhile, calf exports are on target to top 100,000 head this year, despite the disruption to the trade as a result of Storm Emma and the more recent cold snap.

Calf exports are currently exceeding 10,000 head per week, with the figures for the week ending March 18 and March 25 being 12,516 head and 12,159 head respectively.

Overall live exports are running 8pc ahead of 2017, with 67,951 head shipped up to the end of March.

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