Live exports to settle near 100,000 head
Live exports of sheep are set to continue as a feature of the mart trade this year, with Bord Bia predicting that the number of sheep exported live will be maintained.
Close to 100,000 sheep were exported from Ireland last year, an increase of some 52pc on the 2008 figures.
Between January 1 and December 8 last year, 85,000 sheep were exported live and it is expected that a further 15,000 exports will be confirmed for the December period.
Some 43,000hd were exported to Britain, while 12,000hd were sent directly to France, a three-fold increase on 2008. Live exports to Germany doubled, while the number exported to Portugal remained steady.
Bord Bia forecast that the rise in live sheep exports over the last two years will be maintained in 2010 with numbers likely to be broadly similar to 2009 levels.
Halal festivals are the major driving force for the trade, although lower European supplies are also a factor.
The main festivals that take place each year are Ramadan, from August 11 to September 9 this year, and Eid al-Adha, which takes place on November 17.
Purchasing for the festivals generally takes place several weeks before the event, as was proven by the rise in demand in August and October last year.
The sharp increase in live exports to the Mediterranean region last year offset a slowdown in trade to Britain.
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