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Surge in exports of live cattle

Live exports of cattle and calves are on target to hit a 10-year high, the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture have confirmed.

Calf exports have been extremely strong for the first nine months of the year and are in line to set a 20-year record.

The number of cattle shipped has also been high. Close to 1,200 finished cattle are being exported live each week.

Cattle exports to the end of September were on par with the total for last year at 286,159hd, with exports to the end of the third quarter up 26pc on 2009.

Year-to-date exports of finished cattle stand at 47,453hd, compared to 52,577hd for the whole of last year and 21,283hd for 2008.

A total of 46,474 weanlings have been exported so far this year, compared to 62,000 for the whole of last year.

Meanwhile, store exports stand at 41,841hd compared to 47,596hd for the whole of last year and 28,744hd for 2008.

European feeders are flocking for Irish calves. A total of 155,489hd were shipped by the end of last month, compared to 123,451hd for the whole of last year.

So far this year 61,368hd have been shipped to the Netherlands, while Spanish feeders have taken 35,168hd.

Belgian feeders purchased 31,480hd up to the end of September.

Total live exports for the year are now expected to reach between 350,000hd and 360,000hd.

The surge in live exports has been driven to a large degree by dairy farmers seeking to offload Friesian calves which they would have taken on to stores in the past.

Industry commentators say the sale of this stock has been influenced by poor factory prices for finished Friesian cattle.

Irish Independent