Buenos Aires, December 4th. While Argentine cattle and beef chain is discussing to export or not to export live cattle, the Uruguayan neighbors are going ahead with the business. This website dialogued with Dr. Hugo Estavillo, a consultant on traceability and health issues in the cattle business in Uruguay.

He said to www.eFarmNewsAr.com that last year Uruguay exported around 270/280,000 live steers to Turkey, a number that represents an amazing 10% of the country’s calves production. “The business started ten years ago when Lebanon bought the first live steers, to finale fattening during the travel to this country”, Mr. Estavillo explained. “I think that our traceability system, our”country-brand” and our sanitary status were the key factors to go ahead with this business”, he added.

But a few years later, Lebanese importers were displaced by Turkish ones. “They looked for another kind of animal. A calf between 140 to no more than 200 kilograms live weight, intact (not castrated), from beef cattle breeds (Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn) but preferably without horns “, the interviewed said.

It seems that the Turkish demand is steadily growing. This year, only one company exported around 300,000 calves and there are two other exporting live cattle. “But Turkey is also supplied from Chile, Brazil, and Mexico”, he explained.

This volume turned on the alarm in the meatpacker industry, a historic opponent to export live animals. “It was the Government firm decision that allowed continuing with the exports, despite de strong industry lobby”, Estavillo opines.

It estimates that there are between 40 to 50,000 ranchers in Uruguay, against only five slaughterhouses export-oriented companies, that used to fix the price for the steers and, then, for the calves.

“Exporting live animals had a huge impact on the price formation, benefiting to the cow-calf ranchers. Currently, the price of the live calf rounds US$2 per kilogram and live cattle importers are the players that are fixing the price. This stimulates the ranchers to improve its operation, enhancing the pregnancy and weaning rates”, Estavillo stresses.

But Mr. Estavillo remarks the world recognization on the sanitary status of Uruguay and its traceability system. “It’s a confidence matter. For example, Turkey demands that the farms from the cattle come don’t show ‘clinical signs’ on certain diseases. In contrast, I have understood that this country demands Argentina a ‘negative diagnostic’ over the same diseases. Clearly, they have confidence in our sanitary system”, he appoints.

Mr. Estavillo thinks that Argentina has a huge opportunity in the international live cattle commerce, but the country should running some arrangements in its sanitary strategy and its traceability system, and try to uniform the diverse health status across its territory.

Contact Dr. Estavillo. he@trazur.com.uy