66% of Northern Irish beef carcasses fail to meet factory specs – LMC

Just under 66% of all steers and heifers slaughtered in Northern Ireland during March failed to meet factory specifications, figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

It shows that only 34.3% of carcasses met all the key market specifications for age, weight, quality assurance (FQ), UK origin and number of farm residencies.

According to the LMC, the current market specifications require steers and heifers to be under 30 months of age and during March, 87% of all steers and heifers killed met this requirement.

But, 12% of all steers and heifers killed in Northern Ireland were in the 30-36 month bracket.

Along with age limits, current market requirements in Northern Ireland require carcass weights of 280-380kg and during March 69% of steers and heifers fulfilled this.

But, it shows that cattle which failed to meet these carcass weights faced price cuts, with animals weighing between 380-420kg cut by 1.1p/kg and over 420kg down by 12.9p/kg.

Carcass weights:
  • 69% of steers and heifers weighted 280-380kg
  • 8% of steers and heifers had carcasses under 280kg
  • 17.4% of carcasses weighed 380-420kg
  • 4.2% of steer and heifer carcasses weighed over 420kg

In addition to the weight and age specs, cattle in Northern Ireland are only allowed to move four times in their lifetime prior to slaughter to meet the factories specifications.

However, 2.7% of all Northern Irish steer and heifer slaughterings exceeded this limit in March 2016.

The majority of retail specifications also require steers and heifers to have been on the farm they are presented for slaughter from for a period of time prior to slaughter, which varies from 21-90 days.

But, during March of this year, 99% of all steers and heifers slaughtered in the north were on the last farm for more than 30 before slaughter.

Figures from the LMC also show that 99% of all steers and heifers slaughtered north of the border met the specifications of the quality assurance (FQ) scheme.