There was concern among calf exporters this week after new ferries were introduced on the Rosslare to France route, which can carry greater amounts of freight – but fewer numbers of livestock trucks.
To try to cope with huge demand for transporting freight directly to the continent, ferry company Stena took one boat off the route at the weekend and introduced two other large boats in its place.
The boat that was on the route had Department of Agriculture approval to carry up to 21 calf trucks per sailing and it sailed three times per week, allowing a total of 63 trucks travel each week.
However, the two new boats have initial approval for just three and five calf trucks each per sailing.
Stena has suggested that the original boat now taken off the route – the Stena Horizon – could do a Saturday sailing
Taking into account the frequency of sailing from Rosslare, they can carry a combined total of just 24 trucks per week. This would limit calf exports during the busy time starting in mid-February.
Discussions are now underway between the Department of Agriculture and Stena to try resolve this capacity issue.
Stena has suggested that the original boat now taken off the route – the Stena Horizon – could do a Saturday sailing, carrying up to 21 additional calf trucks.
The Department and Stena will look at the possibility of making technical changes to the new boats, which could see them approved to carry more livestock trucks.
These would centre around welfare issues such as ventilation and access for inspection of stock, etc.
Separately, Irish Ferries continues to carry up to eight calf trucks per sailing from Dublin Port to Cherbourg, three times per week.
Co Cork calf exporter William O’Keeffe said that exports will start in earnest in about two weeks’ time.
“This is one week later and that is because supply of Dutch calves is only now slowing down, after which they will switch to buying Irish calves,” he said.
O’Keeffe will start buying calves next week.