Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Dutch demand is driving calf exports

Cattle trade has been strong
Cattle trade has been strong

Farming Independent Team

A doubling of calf exports to the Netherlands has helped drive demand for Friesian bull calves this spring.

Exports of calves to the Netherlands grew from 11,150 last year to 21,508 this year. The reopening of the Belgian market also resulted in 3,315 additional sales.

Department of Agriculture figures, for calves born after December 1 and shipped before March 20, show that overall exports increased from 25,854 in 2016 to 40,263 this spring. This is an increase of 45pc.

Spain continues to be a key outlet for calves, with exports up from 11,150 last year to 14,343 this year.

In contrast, calf exports to France have declined significantly.

While 2,284 were shipped prior to March 20 last year, the figure for 2017 was just 304.

Exports to Italy were also back, falling from 812hd to 654hd. There is a small trade in calves to the North and Britain.

So far this year Northern and British buyers have taken 139 calves.

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The calf trade in the marts has been surprisingly strong all spring, defying predictions of a serious price collapse.

Jim Bushe of New Ross Mart said shipping-type Friesian bulls generally sold from €50/hd to €110/hd on Saturday.

Squarer Friesians were making €120-180/hd, with up to €240 paid for top quality calves of four or five weeks old.

There was great demand for Hereford heifers, with farmers paying from €250 to €350/hd for quality lots. Angus heifers sold for €150 to €300/hd.

Hereford bulls made from €180 to €400, and Angus bulls from €180 to €370.

"Crazy" demand for Continental bulls saw prices range from €200/hd to €500/hd.

Indo Farming