Throughput of sheep at NI abattoirs from the start of year to the week ending 7 May stood at 133,489, making it the highest kill over the first months of the year since 2009.

Exports of sheep from NI for direct slaughter at plants in the Republic of Ireland are also running higher year-on-year with a 24% increase over the same period.

In total, 107,561 NI sheep have been exported south of the Irish border, compared to 86,665 in 2021.

It is a similar story for sheep (mainly cull ewes) exported from NI to slaughter plants in Britain, which are up 62%.

Just over 14,500 animals have been shipped in 2022, compared to 9,027 last year.


Total sheep numbers processed at UK abattoirs are running ahead of 2021 levels. Last month, just over 1m lambs and hoggets were processed in the UK, up 181,000 from the previous year, with carcase weight averaging 21.1kg, a 400g increase on 2021.

Ewe throughput totalled 99,600 last month, up 11% or 9,600 year on year.

According to market analysts at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Ramadan falling in April has been a key driver behind this increased processing demand.

Current prices

Looking at the current trade, factory quotes for spring lambs at local plants in NI have increased by 15p to 635p/kg, as supplies of hoggets come to an end.

But with limited availability and competition from marts, deals of 640p to 650p/kg are available.

This puts lamb prices on a par with last year.

Meanwhile in Britain, spring lambs are in the region of 660p/kg.

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