Fat lambs sold through NI marts are returning £10 to £25 more than animals sold directly for slaughter at local plants.

Competition between factory agents and those buying lambs for live shipping to Britain is intense, boosting farmer returns.

Prices between £165 and £175 are common for good-quality lambs weighing 21.5kg to 25kg, rising above £180 for animals with higher levels of conformation.

Local plants are reluctant to quote, although there are reports of deals at 750p to 760p/kg.

A number have looked to reduce throughput this week, insisting that at current prices, they are losing money processing lambs.

Some buying agents believe prices could ease next week, as buying for the Eid al-Adha festival finishes.

However, with lamb prices in Britain above 800p/kg and a major shortage in supply, mart managers believe live shippers will maintain a presence at local sale-yards in the weeks ahead.

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