Teagasc has begun a trial examining if slow release energy feeds could benefit young calves going for export. Export calves are fed before leaving Ireland and the again at the rest lairage at Cherbourg.

EU rules set maximum travel times within which calves must be fed. Veal farms exert further pressure on exporters to have calves in top condition.

The Moorepark trial – with research body VistaMilk – is at early stages. It is one of a number focused on livestock health and welfare during transport.

Some bigger calf exporters have already tested premium feeds to see which are best for calves in transit. Hallissey Livestock Exports from Co Kerry and Gary Fitzpatrick from County Antrim jointly sought nutritional advice.

“We use a specially designed milk replacer with very high levels of digestible energy and whey based proteins,” Mark Hallissey said.

“All calves get fed this milk the night before transportation and the morning of transportation, three hours before loading.”

Calves receive an energy supplement – sourced from Spanish manufacturer Inzar – before loading. The supplement is sent with the trucks to be included in the calves’ milk at the Cherbourg lairage.