Exports of NI sheep to processing plants in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) are marginally higher year on year according to data published by DAERA.

To the week ending 16 December, NI sheep exported to Irish plants for direct slaughter stands at 327,249.

During the same period last year, exports were 1% lower which equates to 3,537 head. By the year end, annual exports should reach 340,000, which will be above both the 2022 and 2021 totals, but still significantly short of the 378,475 sheep exported to Irish plants in 2020. As well as exports for direct slaughter, a further 80,113 sheep have been exported to ROI farms from January to November.

That is a 6% increase on the same period last year, with current live exports set to finish 2023 at a record high for NI. Most lambs are held on farm for a brief period before slaughter

Sheep exports from NI to Britain for direct slaughter have been virtually non-existent in 2023 with just 550 animals crossing the Irish Sea. That compares to 23,420 animals in 2022 and 32,157 head in 2021.

However, NI sheep exported to farms in Britain is up nearly 12,000 head with 95,866 animals shipped by the end of November.

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