Fred'll fix it

QWhen dressing a carcase at what precise point should the tail be removed? DH

AIf you mean 'when' should the tail be removed, then the answer is usually before the carcase is weighed. If you mean 'where' on the carcase the cuts should be made, then the tail should be taken off at the junction between the fifth sacral vertebra and the first tail or coccygeal vertebra. Where it is the practice to leave the tail on a carcase, then the carcase weight should be reduced by 1kg. Incidentally, carcase weights should be recorded exactly as shown on a scale display; inspectors take a dim view of any rounding-up or down of figures.

QI get luncheon vouchers at work. My boss says these form part of my wages, but I think my wages should be the basic amount I earn. Who is right? T St J

AYou need to check your contract of employment to see what it says, but your boss could be right. Pay is usually calculated on your monthly or hourly pay rate and may be lower than what you actually receive in your wage packet. Your wages could include additional items, such as luncheon vouchers or other vouchers that can be exchanged for goods, services or money. The wages you receive will also include any bonus payments and statutory payments, such as maternity or sick pay, but should not include payments such as expenses, loans or tips.

QMarket prices seem to have a range of terms but little explanation of what they mean. What is DAPP? Some beef and lamb categories use 'small', 'medium' and 'heavy' to describe prices. Does this refer to the size or the weight of an animal. And from where are these prices collected? TW

ADAPP refers to the Deadweight Average Pig Price. It provides a historical average price, weight and probe of pigs from participating abattoirs and represents more than half of weekly pig slaughterings in Great Britain. There has been some demand for it to be used to provide pig price information, but BPEX says it was never designed as an accurate indicator of current prices but of trends over a period of time.

The terms 'small', 'medium' and 'heavy' refer to weight, usually given in kilograms. Liveweight refers, of course, to the weight of the animal before slaughter, while deadweight relates to the weight of the carcase after the animal has been processed. The liveweight range for steers, for example, is: light = 370464kg; medium = 465555kg; heavy = over 555kg. Heifers tend to be smaller at: light = 350399kg; medium = 400480kg; heavy = over 480kg. For lambs the ranges are: light = 25.532.1kg; standard = 32.239.1kg; medium = 39.2455.5kg; heavy = 45.652.0kg.

Liveweight prices are collected from some 120 auction markets around Great Britain. Deadweight prices are collected from 24 abattoirs.

Q I currently sell most of the beef I produce to local butchers? How easy is it going to be to diversify into supermarket trade or the export market? SWT

AThe short answer is, 'Not easy at all.' The problem is that you run the risk of becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. It is not impossible, but the three markets you mention can have very different requirements in terms of what is considered to be an acceptable size, age, shape and weight of animal for butchered beef. Only very large enterprises are likely to have access to the available range of cattle to process and butcher.

As far as exports are concerned, it would be best to contact Eblex and speak to an export marketing specialist about current opportunities. The requirements of Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Germany and France can vary greatly.

Fred A'Court was editor of Meat Trades Journal for more than 15 years. During that time he saw the industry go through a great deal, giving him valuable insight into what makes the sector tick. Here he offers the opportunity for butchers and retail operators to get practical answers to the kind of issues they are facing every day. If you have a trade question that you would like to have answered, and no-one else can help, write to 'Ask Fred' at Meat Trades Journal, William Reed Publishing, Broadfield Park, Crawley, RH11 9RT or email ask.fred@william-reed.co.uk