In 2018, total live exports of cattle, including calves, increased by over 30% compared to 2017, to 246,000 head, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.
This growth trend has continued into 2019, with live exports already totalling 266,000 up until the week ending October 19th. This is up from 221,000 for the same period in 2018 – a 20% increase.
“This increase is in part due to my decision in 2017 to reduce the veterinary inspection fee payable on live exports of calves less than three months of age from €4.80 to €1.20; this has brought greater equity to the inspection fee regime.” the Minister outlined.
Since then, there has been continued growth in the export of calves, rising from 102,000 in 2017 to 159,000 in 2018. 194,000 calves have been exported up until the week ending October 19th.
“The transport of calves poses some additional challenges associated with journey times and feeding requirements, which require the use of lairage facilities at Cherbourg.”
Minister Creed said that he has urged the live export sector to consider developing an additional lairage in Cherbourg or to engage with the owners of existing facilities to explore the potential for additional capacity.
“This has proved possible, as evidenced by the French authorities approving an increase of the holding capacity of the Qualivia lairage in Cherbourg earlier this year.”
“My Department worked closely with the French authorities in this matter. This move provided for additional daily capacity for 400 calves.”
The Minister made the comments in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Jackie Cahill.
Changes in density regulations for lorries
“The importance of the live exports cannot be overstated. Last spring, we had a situation where at times there was a backlog in trying to get calves onto boats to get to Cherbourg due to the lack of lairage facilities on the Continent. We cannot let that situation happen in the spring of 2020.”
“The changes in the density regulations for the lorries will add extra costs and reduce the numbers per lorry of calves that can be exported. That will bring about its own complications as well.”
Cahill said that it is essential the maximum number of calves are exported. Due to the favourable weather last spring, calves will come in a “concentrated” period from the middle of February to St. Patrick's Day, he added.
“A huge percentage of our calves will be born in that month. We will need extra facilities.”
“I know the impact on numbers for calf exports will not be seen for two years but it is essential the maximum number of calves are exported to the Continent this spring in an efficient and economic manner.” the Deputy concluded.