Just over 70% of the 1.3m cattle killed every year are slaughtered at 30 months of age or under.

The 30-month rule was a considerable sticking point during farmer protests in 2019, with many farmers feeling that it was an unnecessary market specification in gaining certain payment bonuses when slaughtering cattle.

There was considerable debate over the subject and a measure was introduced that provided a smaller bonus for cattle killed under 36 months of age.


The information was revealed by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue in response to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The minister pointed out that in the region of 90% of Irish beef was exported each year.

In a further parliamentary question put by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy, the minister said that just eight countries required a veterinary health certificate (VHC) or general meat certificate to show that cattle were fully or partially under the 30-month age restriction.

The countries in question were:

  • China.
  • Iran.
  • Saudi Arabia.
  • Turkey.
  • Qatar.
  • Switzerland.
  • Egypt (applicable to bone-in beef).
  • Singapore (applicable to bone-in beef).
  • “Where there are stringent technical requirements attached to the export of meat to a third country, my Department seeks to continue negotiations with such countries to remove or reduce the impact of the requirement,” the Minister said.

    “For example, in May 2019, the 30-month restriction for Irish beef to Japan was lifted. This was the culmination of a significant programme of work over an 18-month time period.”