Factory demand sees an extra 29,000 Northern Irish sheep killed down south

An extra 29,000 Northern Irish sheep have been slaughtered in the Republic of Ireland so far this year, figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

During 2016 to date, 141,810 sheep have been moved across the border for slaughter in the south compared to 112,750 head during the same period in 2015.

According to the LMC, the increase in sheep shipments from Northern Ireland to the Republic has occurred due to a weaker Sterling.

A weaker Sterling means that Irish processors are able to purchase Northern Irish lambs cheaper and as a result, demand for these lambs from Irish processors has increased this spring.

Are Northern Irish hoggets cheaper?

The increase in Northern Irish sheep crossing the border for slaughter comes on the back of hogget prices in the North dropping 10.7p/kg (14c/kg) during the week ending May 14, the LMC reports.

However, the Irish hogget price has remained relatively unchanged, with the majority of processors offering 500c/kg last week.

But in Sterling terms, Northern Irish hoggets are now 57.8p/kg (75c/kg) cheaper than similar type hoggets slaughtered in the Republic.
Source: Livestock and Meat Commission
Source: Livestock and Meat Commission

Northern Irish sheep kill declines

Figures from the LMC also show that the Northern Irish sheep kill has declined in 2016 on last year’s levels.

Hogget/spring lamb throughput has dropped by 10% to 101,956 head, down from 112,787 head in 2015.

However, Northern Irish spring lamb prices are currently running ahead of 2015 levels.

The price reported R3 lamb price in the North last week was 423p/kg (550c/kg), an increase on the corresponding week last year when the R3 lamb price was 390.5p/kg (504.21c/kg).

This accounts for a differential year on year of £7 (€9) on a 21kg carcass.