Department of Agriculture figures for the week ending 3 April show live calf exports have just exceeded the 70,000 head mark, running 10.2% or 7,933 head behind 2020 levels.

Calf numbers exported to the Netherlands, Ireland’s largest market, are running almost 38% or 16,031 head behind 2020 levels.

Despite the drop in calf exports, the calf trade at marts has remained buoyant all spring. Boosted by strong farmer buyer demand, prices have been consistently €15 to €20 ahead of last year.

This week, the average Friesian bull calf price was up €16 to €85.

Traditionally-bred beef calves accounted for 72% of all calves traded on the ICBF calf price database over the last seven days, which saw prices for these types of animal falling from €10-€15 to an average price of €174 and €207 for heifers and bulls respectively.

See this week’s 20-page Thrive special for the latest dairy calf-to-beef trends and system economics from the Thrive demonstration farm.

New Zealand export ban

New Zealand’s government is

is to ban the live export of cattle within the next two years, its agriculture minister Damien O’Connor has said.

The ban does not apply to animals moved by air. The industry was thrust into the spotlight after the Gulf Livestock 1 vessel capsized during September 2020 in the East China Sea after leaving Napier, New Zealand. Forty-one crew members, including two New Zealanders died, alongside nearly 6,000 cattle.

It is expected that phasing out live exports could take up to two years, giving traders the opportunity to adjust to the new rules. In 2020, New Zealand exported 109,921 live cattle – up from 39,269 in 2019.

There are concerns amongst New Zealand’s agriculture sector about a potential backlash from China, the country’s main live export destination.