222,350 cattle were exported from Ireland to continental Europe in 2006. Of this number, 91,569 were calves less than six weeks old whose destination was mainly intensive veal production units in the Netherlands.
Incredibly, it is legal to transport calves from this country to Europe and beyond once they have reached 14 days old.
These calves are generally the unwanted male calves of the dairy industry that are viewed as unsuitable for beef production.
They are first separated from their mother a couple of days after birth (so that we can drink the milk that nature has intended for them), and then they undergo another immensely traumatic experience in being transported long distances across Europe.
Life will not be any better for them when they reach their destination, as veal farms are well known for the brutal conditions in which they keep calves.
Many of the other cattle exported to continental Europe are known as weanlingsâ€.