Factories are struggling to get numbers to meet market demand for lamb and have increased prices to €4.70/kg up to 22.5kg carcase weight in places, according to IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey.

The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said recent large weekly kills has cleared out a lot of lambs and left supplies scarce. He said the weekly kill has exceeded last year for every week since Easter and the 73,000 head kill for week ending October 5 has left the factories chasing lambs this week.

John Lynskey said reports from farmers and producer groups around the country are indicating the larger numbers of lambs are definitely sold off at this stage and supplies will be much tighter for the rest of the year.

The IFA National Sheep Chairman said there was also a strong live export trade in September with 27,500 exported in the month. He said the main live export markets were France accounting 39%, followed by Belgium (36%) and Germany (17%). John Lynskey said to date this year live exports stand at 42,674, back 19% or 9,800 on last year, according to Bord Bia data.

In addition, John Lynskey said with the Northern Ireland factory kill up by 71,000 head this year, imports to the Republic are back 20% or almost 70,000 head.

He said all the evidence is pointing to lambs having been sold off in both the Republic and in Northern Ireland, leaving supplies very tight for the remainder of 2014 and well into 2015.