In the first months of 2023, more Irish calves were exported to the Netherlands than in the same period of the previous years. This is evident from the import figures that the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) keeps track of this and also from the export figures of the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The RVO figures show that up to week 9, 21,321 Irish calves were brought to the Netherlands. In the same period last year, there were 14,466, an increase of 47 percent. In 2021, 4,761 Irish calves were imported in these weeks, and in 2020, 11,237. The figures are difficult to compare, because the calf husbandry sector was hit hard during the corona pandemic. Veal is a luxury product that is widely consumed in restaurants and other catering establishments. They were closed for a long time.
The increase in exports seems to be mainly due to the larger supply of calves on the Irish side. In total, 28,258 calves were exported from Ireland to various countries in the first eight weeks of 2023, an increase of 69 percent. During this period, 94 percent more cattle, not only calves, were transported to the Netherlands, 18 percent more to Spain and 644 percent more to Poland. There are also countries where less cattle went: Libya (-96 percent), Greece (-35 percent), Northern Ireland (-29 percent) and Great Britain (-23 percent).
The increase in exports of Irish cattle is due to the large increase in exports of the calves. Adult cattle, on the contrary, were exported less. With 15,464 animals, the most cattle went to the Netherlands in the first eight weeks of this year, according to the Irish Ministry of Agriculture. After that, most of the animals went to Spain (10,094), Northern Ireland (5,049), Italy (3,888) and Poland (2,084). It is striking that there are more Irish calves going to the Netherlands and Poland. It is often the case that if more calves go to the Netherlands, fewer go to Spain and vice versa.
The increased import of calves from Ireland is against the sore leg of Animal Protection Organization Wakker Dier. This organization has sent a letter to Minister of Agriculture Piet Adema on this subject. Wakker Dier calls it’unheard of for the minister to allow this extreme animal suffering to be doubled’.
Department chair Wim Thus of LTO Nederland-Department of calf Husbandry cannot yet interpret the figures correctly. “Nine weeks is too early. It may be that the Irish calving season started early. Ireland has a seasonal dairy farm, but I understand that there is a large supply of Irish calves, while the supply from the Netherlands and Germany is small.’