The trade for the live export of calves appears to be starting positively.

Data published by Bord Bia shows the number of calves exported to the week ending 18 February standing at 13,164 head, an increase of 7,212 head on the corresponding period in 2022.

The first significant volume of calf exports to the Netherlands took place last week, with 4,667 head exported, bringing total numbers exported there for the year to date to 6,379, compared with 1,762 in 2022.

The total number of cattle, including calves, exported to Spain was recorded at 2,550 in the most recent week, bringing total exports to a similar figure of 6,146 head. This represents an increase of 1,528 head on 2022.

Firm demand

Reports from mart managers this week point to firm demand from live export agents for calves.

Travel conditions at the start of the year have also been positive, while a reduction in cow numbers across Europe is also said to be helping demand.

Exports to Italy have also started brightly, with 2,392 head of stock exported, compared with 1,589 head in 2022. This is stemming from firm demand for weanlings and now calves.

The combined increases have underpinned year-on-year growth in export volumes of 6,243 head, with total exports recorded at 24,606 head.

The only negative to the live export trade has been fewer stock travelling to Northern Ireland, with volumes exported reducing from 6,090 in 2022 to 4,217 in 2023.

This is being driven in part by keen demand for cattle in Ireland limiting the potential for northern agents to purchase comparable numbers to 2022.