Dairy farmers might have to hold on to calves slightly longer than normal in light of an ongoing animal welfare investigation at a lairage facility at Pignet, France, says the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS).

The Pignet facility, through which thousands of Irish calves move every week, is being investigated after a video surfaced online showing calves being fed at the lairage.

The video raised questions over the length of time calves had been spending in the lairage facility and whether all required rest periods were being adhered to.

The Department of Agriculture sent an email to all Irish calf exporters on Friday stating that the Pignet facility had been closed with immediate effect, with no bookings available until further notice.

The majority of exported Irish calves go through the French lairage facility at Pignet. \ Donal O'Leary

Speaking on Monday, an ICOS spokesperson said the issues behind the closure are “serious in nature and must be investigated thoroughly and resolved immediately”.


The spokesperson said the ICOS is working closely with the Department, marts and other stakeholders to seek a speedy resolution to the issue.

“In the meantime, however, the loss of such a facility in France will cause disruption to the trade at an important time of year for the movement of calves,” they said.

The ICOS warned that farmers need to be conscious of Ireland’s reduced calf export capacity in the short term and, therefore, they should work closely with their mart to ensure that they can get their calves sold.

“This may necessitate holding on to calves for slightly longer than normal,” they said.

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Calf exports stalled due to French lairage investigation