Imports of sheep from Northern Ireland are up significantly this year, according to latest figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission in Northern Ireland.

In the last five weeks, almost 48,000 sheep have crossed the border for direct slaughter in the south. This is up some 20% on the just over 40,000 imported over the same period in 2015.

Supplies at sheep export meat plants in the South for the week ending February 5 stood at almost 44,000 head which was around 12% or almost 5,000 head up on the corresponding week in 2015. Of the almost 44,000 sheep killed in Southern plants that week over 20% were Northern Irish origin.

lamb prices

Base quotes for lamb were generally making between €5.40/kg and €5.75/kg with higher quotes reported for selected lots, while prices paid for culled ewes were generally making between €2.90/kg and €3.00/kg.

Meanwhile, quotes from the major NI processors for R3 grade hoggets this week remained firm at 390-400p/kg (505c/kg -518c/kg) with plants paying up to 22kg, according to the LMC.

In Britain, Bord Bia says the trade continues to rise on the back of increased demand. The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €5.33/kg  towards the end of the week. In France, little change in the trade was reported this week.