LACK OF OVERSIGHT ON SHEEP CARCASS TRIM, WEIGHTS & GRADING CAUSING REAL CONCERN

25 JANUARY 2019

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said the issue of carcass trim is one that’s causing considerable concern amongst sheep farmers. “Over zealous trimming of sheep carcasses is an ongoing worry with farmers who are reporting a kilo or more of a difference in kill out weights among various factories.”

Continuing Mr Brooks said, “Sheep farmers have been operating for years under the assumption that somebody was watching our back. This is not the case however. Shockingly, there is no EU legislative requirement for processors to classify sheep carcasses as is the case for cattle. Carcass trim, weights and grading are all at the discretion of the meat plant and in some cases this information is then manually input at a point in process where farmers have no physical access or means of checking procedures or accuracy.”

“Without any checks and balances in place, sheep farmers are at the mercy of the factories. It certainly gives credence to all the anecdotal evidence of the vastly different kill out weights and grades given across various meat plants. With margins so tight, every kilo counts. Indeed, in this day and age it is scandalous that we should be expected to put up with no monitoring on carcass trim and unverified weights and grades. Inaccurate weights and grades can have a significant financial impact when bonuses and penalties are in play. Essentially they are playing around with farmers’ livelihoods.”

Mr Brooks also questioned the relevance and validity of ongoing data collection and research regarding sheep carcass weights and carcass grades at farm level and at institutional research level. “As there is no standardised checking of trim and no oversight regarding weights and grading, where does that leave all this data? A lot of effort goes in to making improvements aimed at overall performance and efficiency. All this effort would appear meaningless in light of factories essentially doing what they want once you hand over your animals. ”

ENDS