Producing and distributing food – guidance

Reporting deadweight cattle prices: guidance for abattoirs

Slaughterhouses in Great Britain with a high throughput of cattle carcases must send pricing data to AHDB weekly.

Deadweight Price Reporting (DWPR) is the EU scheme whereby larger abattoirs must submit weekly bulk price data for bovine carcases (cattle, bison and buffalo). The EU uses deadweight price information collected from all member states to decide whether it needs to do anything to support the industry.

Which abattoirs need to report

Abattoirs that slaughter more than 20,000 adult bovine animals each year (calculated on a rolling annual average basis) must report prices weekly to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

An adult bovine animal is an animal aged 8 months or over.

Where and when to send information

You must email the information to dead.weight@ahdb.org.uk by Monday evening of each week.

Which animals to include

Your data must relate to individual cattle slaughtered during the previous week (from Monday to Sunday).

Only report the prices of animals that you purchase from suppliers on a deadweight basis and that have been classified against the Union scale.

Don’t report:

  • prices for animals purchased from liveweight markets
  • prices for animals killed in your abattoir for a third party on a contract-kill basis
  • flat rate prices

How to report on deadweight pricing

You must supply the following for each animal, in this order:

  • date of slaughter
  • dressing specification
  • carcase category
  • weight
  • conformation class
  • fat class
  • price
  • kill number

Each of these pieces of data is represented by numbers and/or letters as described below. These number and letter codes form a long string for each animal.

Dressing specification

Data on dressing specifications lets AHDB adjust prices to be comparable.

When you report, choose the code that indicates which of the 3 permitted specifications you have used:

Specification Code
EC Reference 1
UK Specification 2
Standard Specification 3

Category

Use the beef carcase classification categories, as shown in the table below.

Category Description
A Carcase of uncastrated male animal aged from 12 months to less than 24 months
B Carcase of uncastrated male animal aged from 24 months
C Carcase of castrated male animal aged from 12 months
D Carcase of female animal that has calved
E Carcase of other female animal aged from 12 months
Z Carcase of animal (male or female) aged from 8 months to less than 12 months

Weight

Report the actual weight of the carcase (sometimes called the ‘pay weight’) in kilograms - rounded to the nearest kilo, or to one decimal place.

If the weight on which a carcase is paid is restricted, report the actual weight of the carcase.

Conformation and fat classes

You should describe the conformation and fat classes for each category of carcase using the same codes as for the Beef Carcase Classification scheme.

Only report on carcases with the classifications in the table below.

Category Description
A U2, U3, R2, R3, O2 and O3
B R3
C U2, U3, U4, R3, R4, O3 and O4
D R3, R4, O2, O3, O4, P2 and P3
E U2, U3, R2, R3, R4, O2, O3 and O4
Z U2, U3, R2, R3, O2 and O3

Price

Report the price that you pay the supplier for each animal on delivery to the abattoir:

  • in pence per kilo, rounded either to the nearest whole pence or to one decimal place
  • including bonuses for elements such as rare or native breeds, GM-free, Farm Assurance and organic
  • without deducting costs such as procurement, transport, insurance, processing and slaughter, meat inspection, AHDB levy etc
  • excluding VAT

If you restrict the weight on which a carcase is paid, then report the price per kilo as the total price paid, divided by the actual weight of the carcase.

If you report prices for carcases with kidney knob and channel fat (KKCF) included, make this clear. AHDB will adjust the prices in order to be able to compare all prices (on the basis that carcases exclude KKCF).

Kill number

The kill number can be any number of digits, but that number must stay the same for a particular centre. So if your abattoir uses 12-digit kill numbers, but for some reason 11-digit numbers are sometimes assigned, you must add a space or a zero to ensure that 12 numbers appear in the DWPR data string for each animal (do not use tabs).

How to send the data

For detailed advice on the format you should submit your data in, contact AHDB.

Inspections

If your abattoir reports deadweight prices, your records will be inspected once a quarter. If your abattoir is in England or Wales, it will be inspected by the Livestock and Meat Inspectorate of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). Abattoirs in Scotland are inspected by Scottish government inspectors.

The checks will be carried out during routine unannounced inspections of bovine abattoirs.

What the inspector will do

The inspector will have the price information you supplied to AHDB for a selected week. They will audit this information against your abattoir records.

The inspector will reconcile:

  • at least 10% of the information on kill sheets against producer invoices
  • at least 10% of the information on printouts from AHDB of prices you have submitted against payment records

If the inspector finds problems, RPA or the Scottish government may take enforcement action against you for not complying with DWPR requirements.

What you must do

As an abattoir operator you must give inspecting officers all reasonable assistance and information they need to carry out the inspection. This includes making records available for inspection.

You must not deny entry to your premises for an inspection or obstruct an inspector (including by giving false information). If you do, you are committing an offence, which could lead directly to prosecution, and a possible fine or imprisonment.

Enforcement and penalties if you don’t comply

If a licensed abattoir that you operate doesn’t comply with the relevant regulations, you may be committing an offence which could lead directly to prosecution, and a possible fine or imprisonment.

If your abattoir is in England or Wales, RPA can take a range of actions. The RPA Penalty Notice Guidance (PDF, 28.5KB, 4 pages) provides further information on what RPA does when abattoirs breach the rules.

Types of enforcement action

RPA can take 4 levels of action:

  • deficiency notices, which are informal warnings giving you time to resolve the problem; you will get a verbal warning at the same time and sometimes a letter as well
  • enforcement notices, which are issued where the inspector finds the problem hasn’t been resolved when they visit again; the notice states the offence the inspector believes you are committing and specifies the measures you must take within a specific time; it also informs you of your right to appeal
  • penalty notices, issued if you don’t comply with an enforcement notice; a penalty notice imposes a fine and gives you 28 days to pay
  • criminal prosecution, if you don’t pay the fine imposed in the penalty notice; you can also be prosecuted if you fail to comply with an enforcement notice

If a high proportion of the carcases inspected are involved, or if you have committed an offence before, RPA can issue an enforcement notice without first giving a deficiency notice. The same goes for serious offences relating to a failure to notify, licences, and records and marks.

If you have committed two or more offences before, RPA can issue a penalty notice or initiate a prosecution straight away. If an inspector finds more than one problem on a visit, RPA will consider these separately for enforcement purposes. Thus you may receive more than one notice after an inspection.

Fines

If RPA prosecutes you, and you are convicted of an offence relating to marking or labelling carcases in a way that is likely to mislead, there is no limit to the fine the court can give you. Other offences carry potential fines of up to £5,000.

How to appeal

The only type of action you can appeal against is an enforcement notice. There are two ways to do this:

  • email or write to the Meat Technical Schemes team at RPA as soon as possible, enclosing any evidence that was not available during the inspection
  • make a complaint to a magistrates court, which can make an order revoking the notice

You have 1 month from the date of the enforcement notice to make a complaint to the magistrates court.

Relevant regulations

These implement the following EU regulations:

Contact

RPA’s Meat Technical Schemes (MTS) team administers DWPR for England and Wales.

Email: MTS.Carlisle@rpa.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: 03300 416508

Meat Technical Schemes team
Rural Payments Agency
Eden Bridge House
Lowther Street
Carlisle
CA3 8DX