Turkish Veterinary officials and cattle buyers conducted what has been described as a ‘positive’ visit to Ireland this week as negotiations on live exports to the country reached a critical point.

It is understood Irish live exporters are now waiting on a health certificate to be issued from the Turkish Department of Agriculture to finish the process. It is hoped that the certificate will issue within the next two months.

Intense negotiations took place this week between Turkish buyers and Irish live exporters Livestock.ie and Viastar.

The Turkish buyers were described as being  ‘keen’ to purchase stock from Ireland. It is understood that Ireland’s current status of being free of bluetongue is a key selling point.

The Irish live exporters confirmed that both sides are now ‘pretty much’ agreed on the price of the stock and praised the work of the Department of Agriculture in progressing the negotiations.

Procurement and transport of the stock for Turkey is already said to be in place and it is hoped cattle will be shipped in the next month or so.

Cattle type

It is understood the immediate requirement in Turkey would be for younger stock, mainly bull weanlings up to 12 months of age and up to 300kg, from the suckler herd.

It is understood, the Turkish buyers are looking for beef bred bulls, 6-12 months old. The cattle will be bought in Ireland at 250kg to allow for six weeks of lairage and shipping time.

In 2015, EU exports of live cattle showed an increase of close to 60% year-on-year, mainly thanks to the re-opening of the Turkish market.

Lebanon and Turkey remained the two main destinations for European live cattle and Libya is third.

Turkey imported a total of 380,000 head of live cattle in 2015, the majority from South America. France exported over 120,000 head to the Turkish market in 2015.

The number of weanlings exported from Ireland by live-export means fell by 33% during the first three months of the year, recent figures from Bord Bia show.

To the week ending March 26, just over 2,800 weanlings were exported from Ireland, back by 1,363 head on the same time in 2015.