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Live export numbers collapse

The number of animals exported live in the first half of this year has fallen by almost 95,000, according to the latest figures from Bord Bia.

This represents a 40pc crash in total numbers from more than 236,000 in the first six months of last year to 142,000 during the same period this year.

The impact of this increase will be magnified by the simultaneous surge in calvings during the first four months of the year, when more than 70pc of the national herd calve.

This year saw a 3.1pc increase -- or 41,000 extra calves -- hit the ground during this period. This increase occurred despite a 3pc fall in the number of beef-cross calves born during this period, according to the latest figures from the Animal Identification and Movement unit in the Department of Agriculture.

The 13pc -- or 67,000 -- surge in calves sired by dairy bulls more than made up for the fall in beef calves.

The combined effect of these increases will result in an extra 100,000 animals being presented for slaughter in 2013, according to Bord Bia beef analyst Joe Burke.

"The fall-off in live exports this year has been totally driven by the strong domestic prices for stock," he said.


"But the scale of the turn around in numbers could have fairly serious implications. Farmers need to be mindful of the impact that any increase in cattle output can have on prices."

However, Teagasc's head of dairy research, Padraig French, was more optimistic about the spike in numbers being kept on Irish farms.

"By choosing not to sell the bull calf for €100 at birth and bringing it on to finish at €900-1,000, the industry is generating an extra €100m in revenue that it might otherwise be exporting abroad," he said.

Mr French is advising all farmers with an interest in finishing animals from the dairy herd to attend an open day at Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford this Thursday at 10.30am.

It will feature the results of on-going trials on optimising the profitability of beef rearing systems for Friesian cross bulls.

Indo Farming