The Fifth quarter of meat was recently discussed at length by the ICSA, with claims that farmers are not making near enough money from it But what really is the fifth quarter? What does it mean? And could farmers actually be making money from it?
To put it simply the fifth quarter is the remaining pieces of an animal carcass which are not being used for meat production. This included the organs, hide, intestines, feet, the head, horns, hooves bones, fats and anything left once all the good meat is taken away.
It is known as the byproduct or waste products of the animal, as they are generally not consumed by humans. They are known to be of value though, to the factories. Factories currently only pay for 50% of the live weight of an animal brought in, meaning they reap the rewards of the remaining 50%.
These remnants of the animal carcass are used to make other items and produce which are used on a daily basis. Everything from the animal can be used, making the fifth quarter very profitable indeed. See below for a list of sample byproducts of the fifth quarter.
Household cleaning items,
China (plates, cups etc)
Chewing gum and much more.
There are many more than the above-named items, with over 100 individual drugs such as insulin made from byproducts from cattle. This means there could, in fact, be more money for farmers from the fifth quarter than the actual meat of the animal.
ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has said recently, that he is pleased that some clarity is finally emerging regarding the value of the fifth quarter. He said it vindicates ICSA’s position at the beef forum over two years in which the association suggested that up to €150 extra revenue per animal was accruing to meat factories.
“There was a time when offal and skins had limited or no value and in fact were costing money to dispose of; those days are long gone. Instead, the fifth quarter is becoming more and more valuable. We have seen factories invest in new facilities to reap the benefits but they have been very reluctant to admit that farmers should be getting some of the benefit.” said Edmond Phelan recently.