Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

Live exports up 43pc as Department vet lobbied to suspend exports to non-EU countries

Ship Atlantic M currently at sea with 3,000 bulls on board

The loading of Cattle at Greenore Port on Wednesday 19th October 2016. Picture: Thos Caffrey / Newsfile
The loading of Cattle at Greenore Port on Wednesday 19th October 2016. Picture: Thos Caffrey / Newsfile
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The IFA has said that live exports are performing well this year and providing a major boost to cattle farmers.

A total of 116,000 head of livestock have already been exported up to May 20, an increase of 43pc on last year.

IFA Livestock Chairman, Angus Woods said the benefit of every one of these exports has been reflected in higher and more competitive cattle prices in marts all across the country.

It comes as official returns to the lobbying register shows that Martin Blake Chief Veterinary Officer with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been lobbied by the ISPCA to suspend live transport of cattle to non-EU countries pending investigation of reports of cruel treatment in slaughterhouses in non-EU countries.

It comes following the emergence of footage from animal welfare organisations of abuse of EU cattle in Turkey. The video described as 'extremely graphic' were filmed by Australian animal rights group Animals International in slaughterhouses in Turkey and Egypt have been seen by the ISPCA and its says they show horrific treatment of cattle before and during slaughter.

It adds that these practices would be illegal in Ireland and the rest of the EU.

IFA has said it is totally committed to maintaining a strong live export trade, which Angus Woods said is essential for price competition and providing market outlets for livestock.

The IFA Livestock leader Angus Woods said strongly defended the animal welfare aspects of the live export trade. He said all live exports are fully certified by Department of Agriculture veterinary inspectors, who pay particularly attention to animal health and welfare.

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In addition, Angus Woods said Teagasc has proved scientifically that there is no adverse effect on the welfare of livestock from the proper transportation of livestock from Ireland to the Middle East.

He cited a major Teagasc study undertaken by Dr Bernadette Early MRCVS on the transport of 120 young bulls during an 11 day journey to the Lebanon. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of sea transport on the physiological, behavioural and performance responses of young bulls. The conclusion of the comprehensive peer reviewed study was that the welfare of young bulls transported by sea journey was not adversely affected.

On international live exports, Angus Woods said it is very encouraging to see designated live export ships regularly loading in Irish ports this spring.

He said to date, four loads of cattle have been shipped with many more planned for the summer and into the back end of the year. Three boat loads have been shipped to Turkey and a further boat load to Libya.  

Angus Woods said IFA worked hard in getting the Turkish market opened for live exports and it was now very positive to see boats sailing regularly, bringing strong competition to the ring side in marts all across the country.

He said at present Purcell Bros., who have a contract for 20,000 cattle to Turkey, have the Atlantic M on the seas with 3,000 bulls on board.

Last year, the Co Meath based exported Viastar shipped over 19,000 cattle to Turkey. The Limerick/Kerry based Hallissey group also sent a boat load to Turkey, earlier this year. Supreme Livestock recently sent a boat load of 1,850 bulls to Libya.

The IFA Livestock leader said that more than 85,000 calves have been exported this year, mainly male Holstein Friesian, with the main markets being the Netherlands and Spain. He said almost 40,000 head have gone to the Netherlands and a further 36,000 to Spain.

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