Bulk Of NI Live Cattle Bound For Spain

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Over the last two years there have been some significant changes in the livestock trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and Mainland Europe.
calendar icon 25 June 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Trade effectively ceased in late 2008 / early 2009, with exports to Holland restricted. With the Spanish trade picking up the slack, coupled with ad-hoc shipments to Italy, there has been a increase in the number of cattle shipped on the hoof to mainland Europe over the last 18 months. However, this trade remains limited compared to 2007 when the trade regularly exceeded 2,500 head per month.

In 2007 and early 2008, there had been a significant trade in dairy bull calves from the UK (including NI) to Holland with a steady but smaller trade to other countries such as Spain and Belgium. However, the Dutch market was closed to UK producers in the second half of 2008 due to the discovery of TB infected cattle among a shipment from GB to Holland in May of that year. This issue created unease in among other European importers and as a result there were no NI cattle exported to the European mainland in the final quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009.

In the second quarter of 2009 there was a notable increase in the number of cattle being exported to the continent, with almost 1,850 head shipped to Spain. Throughout the remainder of 2009, cattle exports held up with a further 4,000 head exported to Spain in the second half of the year This trade remained buoyant in the first quarter of 2010, with the Spanish importing a further 2,230 head. Provisional figures for the months of April and May show that shipments remain at similar levels and with ROI-based exporters putting in place structures that will allow them to develop supply chains in Northern Ireland, this trade may be expected to grow. However, it is worth noting that total exports of cattle in the first quarter of the year to mainland Europe stood at 2,331, about a quarter of the corresponding figure in 2007.

In 2009 more than three quarters of the cattle exported to Spain were calves, with weanlings making up the remainder. Similar figures have been reported for the first quarter of 2010, with the provisional figures for May showing a slight increase in the proportion of weanlings in shipments to Spain.

Exports to Italy continues to be on an ad-hoc basis in 2010 with the bulk of this trade consisting of calves. In the first six months of 2009, there were no cattle shipments to Italy recorded by DARD, while in the third quarter of last year, DARD recorded shipments of around 71 cattle (weanlings and stores) to Italy. It was only in the final quarter of last year that there were any shipments of calves from NI to Italy, with 224 head shipped in November and almost 900 head exported in December. However, this trade was not sustained and there were no exports from NI to Italy in January at all. There were however, 200 calves exported in February and provisional figures show a similar trade in May.

Further Reading

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