Increase in Live Cattle Exports

UK - Provisional data from DARD (Aphis) shows that shipments of live cattle from NI to other locations in Europe have been 22 per cent higher in the first four months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.
calendar icon 6 May 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The increase in exports has been driven primarily by increased shipments of dairy calves to the continent; however, there have also been sharp increases in the number of cattle exported to farms and processors in the Republic of Ireland. Exports of cattle to GB have declined.

Between January and April, exports of cattle to GB for direct slaughter have been significantly lower than previous year levels. In the same period last year over 3,250 head were exported for slaughter in plants in GB, up from 2,100 head in 2009. This year so far, only 1,250 head have been exported to GB for direct slaughter.

Exports of cattle from NI to farms in GB have also fallen. So far this year, almost 1,700 head have been exported to farms in GB from NI.

The equivalent figure for 2010 was greater than 3,800 head.

Overall exports of cattle to GB have fallen from over 7,000 head last year to fewer than 3,000 head so far this year. This decline may reflect strong availability of cattle on the mainland early in the year which may have meant that demand for imported cattle was more subdued.

Nevertheless, the export trade to mainland Europe and ROI has more than compensated for the reduced shipments to GB over the last number of months.

In the first four months of 2011, there has been a significant increase in the number of cattle exported from NI to ROI for direct slaughter compared to the previous year. This increase is perhaps not that surprising given the attractive exchange rate and strong prices available for finished cattle in the south so far in 2011.

Records show that so far this year, 2,340 finished cattle have been exported from NI farms to plants in the south. This remains below 2009 levels, but is substantially more than the 790 head exported in the same period last year.

The number of cattle exported from NI farms to farms in the south for further feeding has also increased. Between January and April this year, 1,680 head were exported to farms in the south. This compares with only 1,300 last year and as with the situation with finished cattle, 2011 numbers remain slightly behind the equivalent figures for 2009 (1,824 head).

The greatest boost to exports has been in the form of dairy calf shipments to mainland Europe.

Trade in these calves has more than doubled since last year with over 7,300 head exported so far this year. Spain remains the principal destination for these calves, with over 4,000 head shipped between January and April; more than double 2010 levels. As previously reported in the Bulletin, a new export destination has been opened up in Hungary with over 2,200 calves shipped there so far this year. This increased trade will have an impact on the availability of cattle for slaughter in NI late this year or early next year when these calves would have been due for finishing had they been retained and slaughtered locally.

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