The numbers of lambs exported live from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland for direct slaughter have moved back to 2014 levels following falls earlier in the year, AHDB has said.

The organisation for the English beef and sheep industry (AHDB) has said that in 2014, 43% of the North’s lambs were exported south of the border for slaughter.

According to AHDB this has now fallen below 40% in 2015 to date.

AHDB attributes a decline in live lamb exports from Northern Ireland to the Republic in the first half of 2015 to new rules for the labelling of meat that came into effect in April.

The new legislation required meat originating in Northern Ireland and slaughtered in Republic to be labelled as born in the UK, slaughtered in the Republic.

The dual labelling led to issues for the processors in the Republic and a fall in demand for exports, AHDB said; Northern Irish local slaughterings increased as a consequence.

However, it was not just the changes in labelling rules that affected exports; the low value of the euro and tightening supplies when the legislation came into effect both contributed to the fall, AHDB stated.

Since then, according to AHDB, numbers of lambs becoming available for slaughter in Northern Ireland have increased and, at the same time, the euro has strengthened in recent months, leading live exports to the Republic for direct slaughter to move back in line with levels from 2014.