Carcase Weight & Age Are the Major Beef Specification Issues – IFA

Analysis of the 2015 slaughter data by the IFA shows that carcase weight and age are the major specifications factors impacting on price returns to farmers and knocking them out of receiving in-spec bonuses under the Quality Payment System (QPS).

IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said IFA has consistently identified the problems with the 30-month age limit and carcase weight cuts as the major specification issues at the Beef Forum, and made them the priorities to be addressed by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney at the Forum.

On carcase weights cuts, Henry Burns said IFA analysis shows that the current penalty regime being imposed by the factories will cost Irish beef farmers €10.6m in a full year. He said factories are currently imposing price penalties in general of 10c/kg over 420kgs and 20c/kg over 440kg carcase weight. In addition, some plants are attempting to apply cuts over 400kgs on heifers. “If these carcase weight cuts were applied across the board for a full year it would impact on over 133,000 cattle and cost Irish farmers €10.6m or an average of €79 per head.”

Henry Burns said IFA has totally opposed the imposition of carcase weight cuts by the factories as they negatively target our best performing quality cattle, mainly from the suckler herd. IFA analysis shows that 89% of the cattle hit by the weight cuts come from the suckler herd and IFA continues to push for an increase in the 30-month age limit.

On the other in-spec criteria under the QPS, Henry Burns said age and grade were the major factors in denying farmers the benefit of the 12c/kg in-spec bonus. He said an analysis of the 2015 slaughter data shows that 68% of steers were under 30 months of age and 82% of heifers, while only 24% of bulls were slaughtered under 16 months of age.

70% of steers, 76% of heifers and 73% of young bulls graded O= or better for conformation and a fat score of 2+ to 4=.

Henry Burns said when the various in-spec criteria are applied in a combined fashion as with the QPS, the number of animals receiving the in-spec 12c/kg bonus for steers is 44%, heifers 59% and for under 16 month young bulls 18%.

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