The Brahman Express livestock vessel departed from Greenore on Saturday, with over 4,000 Irish weanlings. It is following the Atlantic M, which is already on the way to Turkey and carrying 2,900 weanlings. It brings to almost 7,000 the number of weanlings now sailing from Ireland to the buoyant Turkish market.

The Atlantic M will arrive first. It is expected to reach Mersin port in south Turkey this evening, Thursday. It left Greenore on 20 October and is currently making good progress along the northern coast of Algeria. It is that vessel’s second load of cattle from Ireland to Turkey.

Bigger and faster

The Brahman Express is likewise bound for Mersin port and should reach its destination by next Monday, 7 November. Its shipment is the third overall to leave for Turkey this year and the boat is expected to return and make further shipments.

Built in 2002, the Brahman Express is bigger and faster than the Atlantic M vessel, which is in its 33rd year of service. It measures 133m x 16m and has the capacity to carry 40% to 50% more cattle than the Atlantic M, which measures 100m x 17m.

The voyage to Mersin will take the Brahman Express eight to nine days, compared with 13 to 14 days for the Atlantic M. In the last 12 months, the Brahman Express has dropped anchor in Kuwait, China and Australia. It is owned and operated by Dutch company, Vroon.

There is some speculation that this will be the final load from Ireland to Turkey aboard the Atlantic M this year and that exporters will focus solely on the Brahman Express from here on in.

Cattle type

There is a mixture of animal types aboard the Brahman Express; no one breed or colour is dominant. In terms of quality, mart managers are reporting that buyers for the boat have been picking up both suckler and dairy beef calves in recent weeks.

James Mallon, chief executive of Meath-based international cattle trading company Viastar, is overseeing the current shipments and said that the company hopes to send 20,000 cattle in total to Turkey before the end of 2016.

Listen to a discussion of current beef market conditions in our podcast below:

Listen to "Beef prices under pressure" on Spreaker.