North/South lamb trade impacted by currency rates in 2014

The traditional export of lambs from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter in the South was impacted by currency rates movement in 2014 according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

The LMC says during the six month period ending November 29 the lamb kill in Northern Ireland totalled 288,931 head compared to 264,500 in the corresponding period in 2013. This accounts for a 9% increase in lamb throughput year on year.

The LMC says while the increase in throughput can be partly attributed to a lower lamb mortality on Northern sheep farms in Spring 2014, it also says a drop in the value of euro against sterling also made it less advantageous to export lambs from the North to the South for direct slaughter. This resulted in a larger proportion of lambs being killed domestically, it says.

According to the LMC exports of lambs/hoggets from Northern Ireland to the Republic for direct slaughter during the six month period ending November 29 totalled 177,426 head and accounted for 38% of total lamb output from Northern Ireland farms.

In the corresponding period in 2013 196,094 lambs/hoggets were exported to Republic for direct slaughter, accounting for 43% of total NI production.

Performance

According to the LMC while the throughput in the Northern plants increased during the period under analysis average carcase weights also recorded an increase.

It says the average carcase weight of price reported lambs during the six month period ending November 29 was 21.2kg, up 0.4kg from the corresponding period in 2013 when the average carcase weight was 20.8kg.

The much improved production conditions on Northern farms in 2014 will have been a key driver behind this trend, the LMC says.

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