This week saw further disruption to calf exports due to adverse weather conditions.

Numerous sailings for calves have been cancelled, including those planned for this Saturday, resulting in a backlog in the system. This comes after a fortnight of reduced sailings in late February.

As a result, exporters have been relatively inactive over the past few days at marts, with their yards well stocked with calves waiting to be exported. This has affected calf prices, especially for younger calves with prices as low as €5 to €10/head being reported in some marts for Friesian bull calves this week.

However, the overall Friesian bull calf price remains unchanged at €59/head, according to the ICBF calf price data.

While strong farmer demand is helping to maintain the market, reports from marts across the country suggest that export-type calves that would have been making in excess of €50 last week are back to between €20 and €30 over the past few days.

Bandon Mart had 1,400 calves on offer last Monday with prices back on the previous week.

Mart manager Tom McCarthy said: “There is no fierce run on the shipping of calves yet with shippers being held up with issues around boats.

“This has put pressure on the price of the lower-quality Friesian calf.”

It is hoped that sailings will recommence soon, which will allow exporters to start to clear the backlog over the coming week ahead of the peak calf trade.

Calf registrations

Calf registrations are currently running 37,531 ahead of the 2020 registration figures for the week ending 6 March.

So far in 2021, there have been 736,331 calves from dairy cows registered, up 40,392 on last year’s figure.

Suckler registrations are down, with 2,861 fewer suckler calves registered this year compared to the same period in 2020.

There have been 121,585 calves registered to suckler cows so far in 2020.