Exports of live cattle are up 14% so far in 2023, on the back of strong demand from mainland Europe and the Middle East.

Disease restrictions in France and Spain are driving demand for Irish cattle both within and outside Europe.

Reducing cattle numbers across Europe has also meant more buyers have turned to Ireland to meet their demand.

Calf exports are up 21% on 2022 levels, while weanling numbers are up 16% to 31,888 head exported so far in 2023. Some 48,852 cattle have been exported to Northern Ireland so far in 2023, up 13% on 2022 levels.

Eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have seen a huge increase in Irish cattle imports in 2023. Some 16,416 cattle have been exported to Poland in 2023, up from 3,817 in 2022.

Almost 6,000 cattle left Irish ports in two loads in the past two weeks. The Sarah M was loaded with 2,400 Friesian bulls in Foynes port in Limerick on 10 November and unloaded in Misurata Port in Libya this week. Another boatload of 3,400 weanlings left Greenore port in Louth on 16 November and is due to dock in Haifa port in Israel this weekend.

Buying has already started for a second load to Israel early in 2024.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Bord Bia’s Seamus McMenamin said that a particularly strong calf trade earlier in the year, combined with good store and weanling demand in the second half of the year, have resulted in the increase in cattle exports.