The number of Northern Irish lambs slaughtered in the Republic of Ireland almost hit 30,000 head during the month of November, recent figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

During the three-week period ending November 19, some 28,664 lambs crossed the border for direct slaughter in Southern plants.

This is an increase of 1,176 head or 4.3% on the corresponding period in 2015.

Previously, higher lamb prices down south could be blamed in-part for a spike in lamb exports from Northern Ireland to Southern processing plants - this difference had mainly been driven by a weaker Sterling.

However, figures from the LMC show that prices in the North were 2p/kg (2.35c/kg) more than similar prices offered by procurement managers in southern facilities during the week ending November 19.

This may suggest that southern processors are using Northern Irish lambs to fill a supply gap, with official figures from the Department of Agriculture showing that Irish lamb slaughterings have remained steady in recent weeks.

Sterling strengthens against the euro

According to the LMC, Northern Irish sheep farmers have benefited from a stronger euro with a larger proportion of Northern Irish origin lambs being exported for direct slaughter during the summer and autumn.

Back in May, the number of Northern Irish origin lambs shipped down south spiked due to falling Northern lamb prices and a weakening Sterling.

In recent weeks, the value of Sterling against the euro has strengthened with €1 now buying 85p Sterling.

This should suggest that number of Northern lambs crossing the border for direct slaughter should decline.

However, the LMC says that the value of the euro against Sterling remains at relatively high levels compared to previous years.

Back in 2014, €1 bought 0.73p Sterling and during 2015 €1 bought 83p Sterling, it says.