After four months trading, Spanish buyers are closing in on the Dutch as the largest outlet for Irish calves. By the end of April, there was a difference of 7,588 calves between the two countries that have been the main purchasers of calves from Ireland.

At the same time in 2023, the Netherlands had purchased 36,847 more calves than their Iberian competitors.

The market for Irish calves in Spain is up 12% compared to last year and the Spanish have been very active for calves closer to home too.

Reports from France say that calf prices there were running €10/head higher in the first half of April this year compared to the same time in 2023 due to the competition.

While cattle from Ireland can transit through France, due to a lack of a national IBR eradication programme, the sale of Irish calves to France is restricted.

Calf numbers

Calf numbers at marts continued to slide and were back 26% compared to last week, according to the ICBF calf price database.

That drop in supply combined with a steady demand has resulted in prices moving upwards across the breeds.

Hereford-cross heifer calves were up €18/head for an average price of €127 while selling at €183/head Hereford-cross bull calves were up €5/head in the week.

Angus-cross bull calves went up another €7/head to €165/head, while Angus heifers increased by €12/head to €108/head compared to last week’s figures.

Prices for Friesian bull calves improved by €5/head for an average price of €77/head.