Factory throughput of sheep at NI abattoirs is at its highest level for 12 years, with 126,290 animals processed in the first four months of 2021.
During the corresponding period last year, there were 115,051 sheep slaughtered in NI, while the equivalent figure from 2019 is 102,637.
DAERA statistics show that the current sheep kill is at its highest level since 2009, when 167,922 animals were processed over the same period.
With more animals killed locally, there has been a sharp decline in the number of NI sheep exported for direct slaughter in the Republic of Ireland.
From the outset of the year to the end of April, exports to Irish plants stood at 82,480, down from 112,941 in 2020. Exports to Irish slaughter plants are currently at their lowest level since 2010.
Meanwhile, NI factory prices are holding firm this week despite buying demand easing with the conclusion of Ramadan. Spring lambs continue to make 630p to 640p/kg, with hoggets on 600p to 610p/kg.
Reports indicate that short-term supplies of slaughter-fit sheep have tightened, thereby underpinning prices.