With live exports reaching almost 12,000 head for the first week in March, IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said these are the key weeks when we must maximise calf exports.
He said “strong live exports are essential to keep competition in the beef trade in the years ahead. We know this only too well from last year, when calf exports fell off in 2012 and extra numbers came through as beef in 2014, causing real prices and specifications problems”.
Henry Burns said last week the IFA and Bord Bia had a group of veal farmers from the LTO in the Netherlands visiting Ireland. “Between them, the group purchase about 30,000 calves per anum and were very impressed with what they saw in Ireland.”
Henry Burns said live exports are very strong at the moment with over 9,000 calves per week. He said in the first week of March, 77% of all exports were calves with 5,694 calves going to the Netherlands and 2,689 calves to Spain.
In addition, 1,648 cattle were exported to Northern Ireland, 631 to France, 429 to Italy, 379 to Britain, 160 to Germany and 37 to Belgium. Henry Burns said to date this year live exports are running very close to 2013 and 2014 levels, which is positive.
Henry Burns said IFA, exporters and shippers are working on the trade to North Africa and IFA is hopeful of positive developments. He said there are also more encouraging signs that the EU live trade to Turkey could re-emerge strongly with about 40,000 head of younger stock exported in the last 3 months. In addition there are talks that the live trade for finished cattle to Turkey may reopen soon. He said this could be a major boost for the bull trade in France and Germany. In addition, almost 6,500 head of cattle were exported from Spain to Libya and the Lebanon from Spain in January.
The IFA National Livestock Chairman said cattle prices are improving this week driven by tighter supplies and the continuing strength of sterling. He said a base price of €4.15/kg for steers and €4.25/kg for heifers are more common this week and factories are finding it much harder to get numbers at the lower quoted prices. He said “Farmers with in spec underage cattle should dig in hard and demand 5 to 10c/kg over the quoted base prices”.