Libyan live export market to put new floor to the trade
As dairy farmers increase cow numbers in anticipation of the post-quota era, the success of the Libyan live export trade will be crucial to keeping a floor under price for dairy culls and bull calves.
The Libyan live export trade is expected to underpin the trade for Friesian bull calves and stores, with the potential to take up to 2,000hd per week of lower-grade dairy-type bulls weighing around 300-450kg. Prices are set to start from €1.50/kg, depending on the grade.
This year has a seen a massive 59pc fall in the number of Friesian bull calves exported for veal to the Netherlands as domestic calf prices soared.
In 2011, some 34,492 calves were shipped to Holland between January and mid-July. However, this has fallen to just 14,135 calves during the same period this year.
The almost two-thirds fall in veal calf exports was simply a matter of Irish prices being too high for exporters, said Joe Burke, beef analyst with Bord Bia.
Good quality Friesian bull calves for sale in Kanturk mart last spring sold for €200-250/hd, while in Bandon mart, bull calves sold for €150-180 on average and up to €200/hd.
Calf exporters simply could not compete at those levels so Irish calves stayed at home, bought by farmers who could not pay high prices for beef-type calves.
However, with dairy cow numbers expected to increase, the export trade will be crucial to selling the numbers of calves coming from the dairy herd. Cull cow prices will also need a viable export market to prevent a fall.