Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 20 April 2018

Major calf exporter moves to buying bulk of its calves direct from farmers

Angus Woods said weekly calf exports are exceeding 10,000 head per week

Stock Image
Stock Image
'Killernan Noah', the champion at the Munster Branch Irish Angus Cattle Society Premier bull show & sale in Kilmallock; pictured with owner Martin Hehir, Milltown Malbay, Co Clare, Patrick Noonan, Chairman, judge Dermot Kilcrann, Tarmonbarry, Co. Roscommon, Michael O'Connor, Norbrook Laboratories (sponsor) and John Appelbe, President, Irish Angus Cattle Society. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

Martin Ryan

One of the country's major calf exporters has moved to buy the bulk of its calves direct from farmers.

The Wicklow Calf Company's decision comes as calf registrations for the first three months of 2018 are up by 15,000 compared to last year.

Registrations to spring calving herds are running at a ratio of almost 4:1 in favour of dairy breeds in 2018.

So far registrations show 1,265,976 calves have been recorded with the dairy registrations up by 31,000 head to 986,289, while beef births are down by 15,000 to under 280,000.

David Scallan, manager with Wicklow Calf Company, confirmed they were bringing about a fundamental change to the operation of their business which is aiming for a major expansion.

"All our calves are now being bought directly from farmers and that is the direction we are expanding into for the future which will benefit both farmers and the export market for Irish calves," said Mr Scallan.

Collection points

He said that currently the company is purchasing their calves directly from farmers at 10 collection points across the country stretching from Cork to Monaghan with the intention to double the number of collection points within a year.

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They are engaged with a number of livestock marts in organising the collection points for calves.

The aim is to ensure "the least hardship for the calf and a lesser risk of infection and loss" than through open sales which is the way that they intend to develop the business for the future.

"When I'm getting the calves direct from the farmers I know what I am getting. I have no scours," said Mr Scallan.

"There is a huge export market on the continent for quality Irish calves," he said.

"We don't have to export Irish calves at throwaway prices if we up our game, and give the customers calves that perform well for them.

"Farmers deserve to get a proper price for their calves. Some of what went on this year - and the prices that farmers got - was an insult," he added.

He said the big companies feeding calves on the continent analyse detailed data to tailor their demands.

"They know the calves that are performing for them. They are now telling us the area of the country that they want the calves from," he said.

Calf exports are topping 10,000 head a week, with over 56,165 calves exported with the main buyers the Netherlands and Spain.

The IFA's Angus Woods said the increase in dairy cow numbers means Ireland needs to be targeting well in excess of 100,000 head of calf exports.

The IFA National Livestock Chairman said live cattle exports are going well so far this year with numbers up 8% to 67,951 head to week ending March 25th. He said this is the really busy time of year for calf exports and to date this year a total of 56,165 calves have been exported with the main market destinations being the Netherlands and Spain.


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