The Irish Farmers Journal understands Viastar, the Meath-based livestock export company

operated by James Mallon, has secured a contract to export dairy beef calves to Spain in 2021.

The market is for stronger dairy beef calves weighing 60kg or heavier. The exports will take place from Viastar’s premises in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Spain was Ireland’s largest export market for calves in 2020, taking 67,141 calves.

Early calf sales have started well, with Cork marts in Bandon reporting a flying trade on Monday. Mart manager Tom McCarthy said: “The calf trade has got off to an exceptionally strong start this year, there’s good vibes coming from the beef side of things.”

Hereford and Angus bull calves sold for €220-€440/head, while heifers made €200-€390/head.

On the export side there is some concern about how COVID-19 has affected veal markets in mainland Europe and this could affect calf exports, similar to 2020. Ireland exported 56,669 fewer calves in 2020 compared to 2019 levels.

Bord Bia’s Seamus McMenamin said: “There are some positive signs in the veal markets but it’s early days. The NI market and Italian market also look positive at the moment.”

Viastar is also actively looking for continental bulls for export to Turkey. The company sent over 2,900 bulls to Turkey just before Christmas with the boat safely docking in Turkey at the beginning of January.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands Viastar has now secured another contract for exporting continental bulls from 200-450kg to Turkey in 2021.

Some 10,137 weanlings were exported to Turkey in 2020, down just 101 on the previous year’s 10,238. Irish weanling exporters are hopeful that this figure can be increased in 2021.