More Northern Irish lambs head south for slaughter

The number of Northern Irish lambs, which crossed the border for direct slaughter in the Republic of Ireland, stood at 247,760 head up to the week ending September 30 this year.

Figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show that’s a rise of 7% on the 230,858 slaughtered during the corresponding period in 2017.

During the week ending October 30, some 7,071 Northern Irish lambs were processed in plants south of the border. At the same time, throughput in Northern Irish based plants totalled 10,743 head – up 1,293 head from the previous week.

According to the LMC, some 285,623 Northern Irish lambs have been slaughtered in plants north of the border this year – a decrease of 8.3% on the corresponding period in 2017.

Higher prices south of the border undoubtedly had a role to play in the number of Northern Irish lambs being transported across the border for slaughter.

Prices from the LMC show that the average dead weight lamb price in the North stood at 375.1p/kg during the week ending September 30. At the same time, lambs slaughtered south of the border made the equivalent of 390.8p/kg.

Irish supplies

Meanwhile, looking at supplies in slaughter facilities located in the Republic, official figures show that sheep supplies eased significantly during the week ending September 30.

In total, some 65,380 sheep were processed in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants – a fall of 2,078 head on the previous week.

Throughput decreases were witnessed in the spring lamb and cast (ewe and ram) categories, but a small increase was witnessed in hogget slaughterings.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending September 30):
  • Hoggets: 119 head (+77 head or +183%);
  • Spring lambs: 51,798 head (-2,063 head or -3.8%);
  • Ewes and rams: 13,457 head (-95 head or -0.7%);
  • Total: 65,380 head (-2,078 head or -3.1%).

Moving on to the cumulative sheep kill, almost 2.2 million sheep have been processed up to and including the week ending September 30 this year.

As has been the case for a while now, hogget and cast slaughterings continue to run ahead of the quantities witnessed in 2017, but spring lamb numbers are down 22,227 head or 2% compared to the corresponding period in 2017.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 828,802 head (+22,161 head or +3%);
  • Spring lambs: 991,709 head (-22,227 head or -2%);
  • Ewes and rams: 374,027 head (+55,442 head or +17%);
  • Total: 2,194,676 head (+54,706 head or +3%).