Northern Irish sheep an increased presence in southern plants

Over 19,000 Northern Irish lambs were slaughtered in sheepmeat plants based in the Republic of Ireland this month, new figures show.

According to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), some 6,794 NI-origin lambs were transported down south for processing during the week ending August 18.

This follows on from the 12,367 lambs moved across the border during the first two weeks of the month.

Meanwhile, the LMC also reports that domestic lamb slaughterings have been strong in recent weeks. During the week ending August 18, some 12,156 lambs were slaughtered in Northern Irish plants – an increase of 2,878 head compared to the quantity slaughtered the week earlier.

In addition, some 28,339 NI-origin sheep (including ewes and lambs) were slaughtered down south during the month of July. When compared to the corresponding period in 2016, that’s an increase of 2,219 head or 8.5%.

EID festival drives slaughterings

Slaughter demand, created by the Muslim festival of Eid, has seen a strong increase in the number of lambs being slaughtered in southern plants – be they Irish or Northern Irish lambs.

The most recent data from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that some 49,411 spring lambs were slaughtered during the week ending August 20. This kill is likely to replicated this week as the Muslim festival is fast approaching.

This year’s festival is expected to kick off on August 31 and is set to run until September 4.

Given the large demand for lamb and sheepmeat from Muslim communities across the globe, Irish processors are set for a busy period in the lead up to the festival.

Supplies are expected to jump by 5,000-15,000 head compared to a normal week’s kill for the July-to-December period in the weeks leading

Last year, in the week before Eid-al-Adha, some 70,000 sheep were slaughtered in Irish plants; that was the fourth consecutive year when supplies peaked in advance of the Muslim religious festival.