Dunbia, which processes more than 300,000 animals a year in the UK, has given its producers notice that its beef animal specification is changing.
The beef processor is believed to have made a number of changes that will impact on UK farmers, which include changes to carcass weight and the number of lifetime movements, these changes will come into effect on November 16.
According to industry sources in the UK, the beef processor has dropped its maximum non-penalty carcass weight from 415kg to 400kg, which has come to annoyance of UK farming organisations.
Sources say that Dunbia has also changed the specifications in regards to the lifetime movements of beef animals and it has introduced a four farm residency rule, with animals that break this expected to be penalised by 15p/kg (21c/kg).
These changes are said to have occurred as processors move in line with supermarket requirements for smaller younger carcasses.
According to the NFU (National Farmers Union of the UK) these changes to cattle specification at such a short notice are totally unacceptable.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said the announcement by Dunbia will have a big impact on animals already being finished on farm.
Changes in the specifications, including a dramatic decrease in carcass weight, and the introduction of a four residencies rule, will mean that animals already on farm are being produced to a spec that will be penalised within days.
“Farmers will likely receive hefty penalties for producing animals in good faith to a spec that no longer exists,” said Raymond.
The NFU President added that the beef processor has not given farmers significant time to adjust to these spec changes.
They are giving their producers virtually no notice for significant changes in the specifications of cattle – there is simply no opportunity for cattle already in the production system to adjust to the new spec.
“Beef production is a long-term enterprise and has a 2-3 year cycle and purchasing and feeding decisions are made well in advance.”
Agriland contacted Dunbia for further details about the specification changes, but has yet to receive comment from the processor.