Weak sterling sees surge in Northern lambs killed south of the border

The numbers of lambs imported from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter in plants south of the border surged in June, according to latest figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in Northern Ireland.

It says the Republic continues to act as an important outlet for the Northern Ireland sheep sector with 27,367 sheep exported from North to South for direct slaughter during June 2016.

In the corresponding period in 2015, a total of 16,484 sheep made the journey from Northern to the Republic for direct slaughter.

This accounts for a notable 66% increase year on year.

According to the LMC, the strengthening in the value of euro against sterling has made Northern lambs less expensive in euro terms and this has resulted in increased demand for Northern Ireland origin lambs from processors in the Republic whilst also making competing on the EU market slightly less challenging for Northern processors.

The deadweight sheep trade has remained firm in Northern Ireland with quotes for R3 grade lambs ranging from 390-395p/kg up to 21kg in recent days.

In the Republic the sheep trade remains steady for the week ending July 15 on the back of good demand and stable supplies.

According to Bord Bia, base quotes for lamb were generally making between €4.90/kg to €5.00/kg while prices for culled ewes were generally making around €2.30/kg to €2.40/kg.

Supplies at sheep export meat plants in the Republic for the week ending July 10 were standing at 60,000 head which was up 1% on the corresponding week in 2015.

So far this year, cumulative supplies are up 5% on year previous levels at 1.26 million head. Cumulative supplies of hoggets and cull ewes and rams are up by 7% and 26% respectively with Spring lamb down 4%.