The last sailing of the Brahman Express livestock transport ship scheduled from these shores in 2016 is under way, bringing the total number of live Irish cattle shipped to Turkey this year to around 20,000.

This latest load left from Greenore port on Tuesday morning and is due to arrive in Mesrin on 29 December.

Feed for the cattle was supplied by Co Longford merchant Kiernan Milling, who shared pictures of the loading process on Monday.

Attention now turns to further contracts for live exports in 2017, as the current supply tender with the Turkish authorities expires at the end of this year.

Viastar, who supplies into the current Turkish contract, also began live exports to Libya last month.

According to the latest figures from Bord Bia, live exports fell by 21% this year. Meanwhile, the number of cattle fit for slaughter is forecast to rise to 1.74m next year, making the development of new live export markets even more crucial.

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