Increased demand from processors in Northern Ireland (NI) for lambs/hoggets has increased the proportion of NI origin lambs slaughtered in local plants.

This is according to the Livestock and Meat Commission in Northern Ireland which outline that during 2014 to date 51% of NI sheep have been killed locally compared to 38% in the corresponding period in 2013. The increased demand from NI plants during 2014 to date has resulted in a 26% drop in exports of sheep from NI to ROI for direct slaughter when compared to the 2013 period.

The LMC also notes that driven by a marked increase in the number of lambs/hoggets processed in NI plants, sheepmeat production from lambs and hoggets in NI has totalled 2,679 tonnes during 2014 to date. Representing an increase of 587 tonnes from the corresponding period in 2013.

It says during 2014 to date 122,181 lambs/hoggets have been slaughtered in NI compared to 98,014 head during the 2013 period. This increase by 24,167 head accounts for a 24.5% increase in throughput. There has also been an increase in average carcase weights from 21.3kg in the 2013 period to 22kg in 2014 to date.

The NI plants have now shifted over to spring lambs with hoggets accounting for 5% of the price reported kill last week.

The LMC report that supplies of lambs have started to increase in recent weeks with throughput in both the marts and the plants showing an increase in throughput. With more supply coming out the market has come under pressure in recent weeks in line with normal seasonal trends. While deadweight prices in NI in recent weeks have been below 2013 levels they are still high on a historical basis.