Factories take hard line on cull cow weight limits

Department of Agriculture figures confirm a 23pc lift in the number of cows killed.
Department of Agriculture figures confirm a 23pc lift in the number of cows killed.

FarmIreland Team

Beef factories have rejected calls from the ICMSA to amend their mandatory weight limits for cows and the associated penalties.

Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) pointed out that the 272kg (600lb) cut-off weight has been a marketplace requirement for more than 25 years.

“Our cow prices remain at the upper end of EU prices. However, under-finished or extreme dairy cross cows will always struggle in terms of meeting market specification and achieving a higher price,” Mr Healy said.

The ICMSA’s livestock chair, Des Morrison, accused the factories of hammering farmers on cow prices.

While €3/kg was being quoted for P-grade cows with flesh, cows under the 272kg weight limit had been heavily penalised, Mr Morrison pointed out.

Department of Agriculture data indicated that as low as 112c/kg had been paid recently for cows, he explained.

“The penalties being imposed on some of these cows are completely beyond reason given the current circumstances. Loyal suppliers over many years are getting hammered on prices and in particular on the specifications,” Mr Morrison said.

He also raised with me the question of the value of the fifth quarter. "I have questioned factory representatives on the value of the fifth quarter and the hide. I was given no information.

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"If a cull cow made €500 last year in the factory and this year the same animal only brings €300, the question I have is has the value of the offal fallen as well as the value of the meat?"

The value of offal imports into China in 2016 was $3.3bn.

Online Editors