After the Fire: Cattle Slaughter and Beef Prices
This week's article was written by Dr. Derrell Peel at Oklahoma State University who digs in a little deeper on the impact of the Tyson Fire. He discusses that the early reports showing the increase in slaughter following the fire are built upon estimates and that the actual numbers are on a two-week delay. I especially like his view on the changes in beef primal values.
Cattle and beef markets continue to recover from the disruptions resulting from the Tyson packing plant fire in Finney County, Kansas on August 9. Data is slowly becoming available to provide more clarity to the aftermath of the fire and, in some cases, clear up some initial misperceptions. Lots of scrutiny and suspicions are being directed at cattle and beef markets.
Actual slaughter data is available from the Agricultural Marketing Service with a two-week lag. Thus, on August 29, data became available to compare the pre- and post-fire impact on cattle slaughter. Table 1 shows the actual daily steer and heifer slaughter for the week before and after the fire. Monday through Friday slaughter following the fire was down 22,158 head, 4.6 percent lower than the week before the fire. This reduction is close to the estimated capacity of the closed plant. However, by Saturday the industry was able to increase steer and heifer slaughter by 21,156 head compared to the previous week. This resulted in a net slaughter decrease of 1,002 head the week after the fire.
Numerous early media reports indicated that estimated slaughter the week after the fire was up by 9,000 head. This was incorrect largely because it included a large estimated increase in cow and bull slaughter and also because it was based on daily slaughter estimates. Actual slaughter data for the second week after the fire will be available later this week. The estimates currently available suggest that total steer and heifer slaughter two weeks after the fire may be up slightly compared to the week before the fire.
Actual slaughter data now available also includes carcass weights before and after the fire. Steer and heifer carcass weights were each up three pounds in the week after the fire. There is no indication that possible slaughter delays pushed carcass weights higher as a result of the fire. Carcass weights have been increasing about three pounds per week since the early June seasonal low. Steer and heifer carcass weights were lower year over year for the week after the fire and are down 5+ pounds for the entire year thus far. Analysis of the fire aftermath will continue in the coming days and weeks.