Mondays, Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offers his economic analysis of the beef cattle industry. This analysis is a part of the weekly series known as the "Cow Calf Corner" published electronically by Dr. Peel and Dr. Glenn Selk. Today, Dr. Peel talks about life in the cattle business after the fire out in Holcomb, Kansas and how cattle slaughter and beef prices have changed since early August.
"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. 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.
"The reduction in beef production resulting from the fire provoked a sharp response in cash prices for boxed beef with varied responses for the different beef primals. Table 2 shows the price levels the day of the fire (the fire occurred after business hours) and the percent change in prices since that time. All percent changes are daily negotiated prices compared to values on August 9. The Choice cutout peaked on August 20 and 21, up 11.7 percent from August 9 levels. Cutout values have since decreased and are up 7.1 percent on August 30 compared to August 9.
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