Weighing up the sea and trucking options

Three walk-on, walk-off livestock ships are already approved by the Department of Agriculture, with another in advanced stages of securing a permit.

These vessels take anywhere from 3,000 to 4,500 animals, which are kept in loose-bedded pens, where they have access to feed and water throughout their journey. However, for several exporters the preferred option would be to send smaller consignments of cattle on trucks using the roll-on, roll-off service on ferries.

"Trucks have travelled from Ireland to destinations such as Libya, Morocco and Tunisia before but during the hot months of July and August our Department of Agriculture would prefer ocean transport rather than trucks," said Bord Bia's beef specialist, Joe Burke.

"The vessels already approved are operated by companies from Belgium, Syria, Libya and Egypt and the journey time from Ireland to Turkey would be 7-10 days by sea.

"The exporters can haul 60-70 weanlings per truck, at a cost of around €250 per head in transport costs.

"Shipping costs have not been finalised yet and are a matter between the exporters and the vessel operators," he said.

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