Northern Irish origin lamb continues to take a prominent position in Irish sheep factories.

So far this year, some 144,332 Northern Irish sheep have been slaughtered in southern plants – the majority of these have been lambs. This is just a slight decrease on the 144,518 slaughtered during the same period last year.

However, exports of Northern Irish sheep for direct slaughter in the Republic of Ireland have increased in recent weeks, figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

Nearly 1,000 more sheep were exported from the North during the week ending June 3, than the corresponding week in 2016.

Exports of sheep to the Republic of Ireland, for direct slaughter, during the week ending June 3 totalled 5,746 head.

This is similar to the previous week and higher than the same week in 2016, when 4,798 sheep crossed the border for direct slaughter.

In addition, the average deadweight lamb price in the North during the week ending June 3 stood at 471.5p/kg (535c/kg); while lambs slaughtered in the Republic made 484.9p/kg (550c/kg).

Irish factory prices

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the lamb trade last week, tighter supplies look to be working in the Irish sheep farmers’ favour.

Last week, AgriLand reported that spring lamb prices had eased by 20-40c/kg. However, some processors have moved to ease, and even reverse, these cuts in order to secure numbers.

Kepak Athleague is currently offering a base price of 600c/kg for spring lambs, while Kildare Chilling is starting negotiations at 590c/kg. Both of these prices exclude Quality Assurance bonuses of 5c/kg and 10c/kg respectively.

The two Irish Country Meats’ plants, located in Camolin and Navan, are working off a lower base and are offering farmers 580c/kg for new-season lambs.