Live exports continue to perform ahead of expectations for 2023. So far, there have been 292,328 cattle exported - a rise of 45,539 head of cattle on the 2022 figure of 246,789 head for the same period.

Exports of live animals for breeding, further feeding and direct slaughter to Northern Ireland are up 20%, with a particular increase in exports in the last two months.

For the week ending 7 October 2023, there were 1,511 head of cattle cleared for export to Northern Ireland – up 247 head on the same week in 2022. So far, 43,161 cattle have ben exported to Northern Ireland in 2023.

Exports to Britain have also increased in recent weeks, with 174 head exported in the first week of October. So far in 2023, 2,532 cattle have been exported to Britain – down just over 200 head on the 2022 figure.

Export destinations

Other export destinations performing well include Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Spain has seen its imports of Irish cattle rise by 2% in 2023 to 66,649 head, predominantly made up of calves.

The Netherlands, despite the weather and lairage disruptions in France, also performed well with calf exports up 17% to 111,937 calves in 2023.

Italy has also become a very important market for calves, with live exports up 26.6% in 2023. A number of contracts for top-end weanlings are also being filled on a weekly basis.

Further afield, Libya has seen a disappointing year so far, with just 130 cattle exported so far in 2023 – down from 9,708 for the same period in 2022.

There are a number of exporters currently lining up shipments to the north African country before the end of the year.

Exports of weanlings to Turkey currently stands at 2,219 head. Exports of weanlings are up 25.6%, exports of store cattle is back by 18%, exports of calves is up 21.5%, while exports of finished cattle has seen the biggest percentage rise at 31%.

Database

The cattle trade continues on a steady footing this week, with very little change across most stock categories.

Mart managers are still reporting a little easing of the trade of the lighter, poorer-quality weanling, with exporters currently not as active as they were a number of weeks ago.

Despite this, top-end bull weanlings in the popular 300kg to 400kg category continue to command big money, with these weanlings coming in at €3.47/kg this week.

Top-end weanling heifers were up a little on last week, trading at €3.45/kg this week.

In the bullock rings, lighter cattle were up a little, while heavy cattle were back a very small amount.

Average bullocks in the 400kg to 500kg weight category came in at €2.41/kg this week – an increase of 5c/kg on the previous week.

Heifer sales had a very positive week, with prices up across the board. Top-quality 500kg to 600kg heifers came in at €2.98/kg this week, up 7c/kg on last week’s trading. Lesser-quality heifers held steady, with Aberdeen Angus and Hereford dairy-cross heifers coming in at €2/kg to €2.20/kg this week.

The cull dairy cow trade is under pressure, with some P1 parlour cows trading for as low as 70c/kg this week.