Along with membership of the QA Scheme, the 30-month requirement is one of four other criteria applied by factories to qualify for the 12c per kg ‘In Spec’ bonus payment.
These additional criteria are: animals under 30 months of age; maximum four farm residencies;70-day residency prior to slaughter; grades of O= or better, and between 2+ and 4= fat score.
To justify these specs, the meat factories have stated that these are demanded by some other countries and by some retailers, particularly in the UK. This position has been supported by Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture.
The 30-month rule has its origins in the BSE crisis. Time has moved on and there is no longer any veterinary basis for the rule. However, some countries and some UK retailers continue to have it as a requirement. If we want to supply their markets, we have to meet their specifications.