Larger than usual calf sales late in the season are playing a part in reducing the gap between calf sales to Europe, when compared to last year.

According to Bord Bia, by the end of week 19 in 2024, 146,967 calves were sold to the continent. This is 9% short of the same time last year.

While sales are up to most countries, the Dutch market is running 30% behind where it was in 2023.

Delayed calving and a reduced supply of Friesian bull calves due to sexed semen are among the main reasons for the slow start, with bad weather also being a factor.

Those issues resulted in the number of calves shipped in the first two months of 2024 being back to just over a third compared to the corresponding time last year.

In the first eight weeks of this year, 18,056 calves were shipped. For the same period in 2023, this figure stood at 45,004.

Shippers have kept a firm floor in calf prices and most have seen marginal improvements over the last week.

Most Angus- and Hereford-cross calves aged between three and six weeks of age saw gains of anywhere from €3 to €7/head.