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Bluetongue Outbreak To Disrupt Calf Exportation

11 September 2007

NETHERLANDS - Persistent problems with the viral disease bluetongue is continuing to disrupt calf exports to the continent.

Carlow-based calf exporter, Adam Buitelaar, said a fall-off in prices in Holland meant trade was not viable at the moment.

Difficulties in the Dutch market are closely linked to the spread of bluetongue. The disease, first identified in Holland last year, is now affecting large areas of the Low Countries and much of Germany.

While the movement of cattle and sheep out of affected regions is not permitted, livestock can be brought in from outside these areas and can also be moved within the affected regions.

As a consequence, calves which were formerly sourced for the Dutch veal trade from dairy herds in Ireland and Britain, are now being bought more cheaply in Germany.

Mr Buitelaar explained that calves from Germany were traditionally exported to Spain, but this trade has stopped due to the restrictions introduced to curb the spread of bluetongue. Demand for stock in Spain is also well back this year.

He pointed out that rising feed costs had undermined the Spanish veal sector as farmers involved in the trade generally depend on meal to finish their calves.

Meanwhile, an early end to the bluetongue epidemic on the continent seems unlikely. It had been hoped that the virus would be killed off by last winter's frosts. However, a particularly mild winter helped it survive.

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Source: Independent


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