Sheep imports from NI increase 63,757 head in 2016
A total of 394,298 sheep were imported from Northern Ireland into the Republic for direct slaughter in 2016. This accounted for 15% of the total Irish sheep kill of 2.67m head, with northern Irish sheep an important component in increasing output and diluting operating costs for southern processors.
The volume of sheep imported represents an increase of 63,757 head on 2015 levels. The increase stemmed from a weakening in the value of sterling to euro, making northern sheep a more attractive prospect to southern buyers. Northern sheep were also used as a means of underpinning supplies midway during the year, as reflected in Figure 1, with normal spring lamb throughput delayed two to three weeks by lower lamb performance.
The knock-on-effect for Northern plants was tighter supplies and lower throughput, with the Northern sheep kill falling from 502,992 to 453,041, a reduction of 49,951 head. Sheep farmers in Northern Ireland benefited from added competition in the live trade, with buyers sourcing lambs for southern plants active in northern marts.