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US Livestock Slaughter Statistics

20 June 2008
National Agricultural Statistics Service

US - The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) comment on livestock slaughter statistics such as beef and veal in their monthly Livestock Slaughter Report.

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.22 billion pounds in May, up 4 percent from the 4.08 billion pounds produced in May 2007.

Beef production, at 2.38 billion pounds, was 4 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 3.14 million head, up 3 percent from May 2007. The average live weight was up 19 pounds from the previous year, at 1,251 pounds.

Veal production totaled 11.5 million pounds, 7 percent below May a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 71,100 head, up 21 percent from May 2007. The average live weight was down 74 pounds from last year, at 275 pounds.

January to May 2008 commercial red meat production was 21.0 billion pounds, up 7 percent from 2007. Accumulated beef production was up 4 percent from last year, veal was down 11 percent, pork was up 11 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 4 percent.

U.S. Monthly Commercial Red Meat Production

U.S. Monthly Commercial Slaughter Cattle

U.S. Monthly Commercial Slaughter Calves

U.S. Monthly Commercial Slaughter Average Live Weight Cattle

U.S. Monthly Federally Inspected Average Dressed Weight Cattle

U.S. Monthly Federally Inspected Average Dressed Weight Steers

U.S. Monthly Federally Inspected Average Dressed Weight Heifers

Reliability of Livestock Slaughter Estimates

Data Sources: Primary data for the commercial livestock slaughter estimates are obtained from electronic reports completed by inspectors from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA, which provide daily counts of animals slaughtered in Federally Inspected (FI) plants, in addition to total live and dressed weights. These counts are combined with data from State-administered Non-Federally Inspected (NFI) slaughter plants to derive total commercial slaughter estimates. More than 95 percent of the total U.S. slaughter for any species is under Federal Inspection.

There are nearly 800 livestock slaughter plants in the U.S. operating under Federal Inspection and over 2,000 Non-Federally Inspected (State-inspected or custom-exempt) slaughter plants. Slaughter from State-inspected Talmedge-Aiken plants is included in FI totals (see Types of Plants, page 20). To prevent duplication in reporting between FI and NFI plants and assure all FI plants are included, certificates prepared by FSIS identifying operating status are constantly monitored.

Revision Policy: Number of head slaughtered, live weights, and dressed weights are subject to revision the following month after the monthly release. Annual totals are published in the slaughter summary each March which includes any revisions made to current and previous year’s published data. Revisions are generally the result of late reports received from slaughter plants and are usually less than one-half of one percent. No revisions will be made to the previous year’s data after the publication of the annual summary in March.

Procedures and Reliability: The livestock slaughter data is obtained electronically on a daily basis and summarized approximately two weeks after the week of slaughter. An edit compares each plant's data with the historical data for that plant. Data are checked for unusual values for head kill, patterns of kill, average weights, and dressing percent, based on each plant's past operating profile. In addition, the edit provides a listing of missing reports for follow-up contact with FSIS. Average live and dressed weights and dressing percentages by State are compared with the previous weeks as an additional check. Fluctuations are frequently the result of plants permanently or temporarily closing and a shift in the species reported.

The FSIS District Veterinary Medical Specialists (DVMS) are contacted by e-mail or telephone for missing or potentially erroneous slaughter data. This assures that plants slaughtering a large number of head or several species are accounted for each week. Any corrections FSIS makes to the slaughter data are included in the summary.

Imputation may be necessary for incomplete reports. The imputation of live and dressed weights is based on the current week reported data of plants of similar size and location. Imputation for live and dressed weight data for cattle and hogs is less than 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively. The imputation for calves and sheep is more frequent and variable. If no data is received electronically or by other means, for plants slaughtering fewer than 50 total head weekly of only one species, data are imputed. The imputation of head for any plant is based on the historical data for that particular plant. The imputation of head slaughtered is rare but when necessary, the imputed head kill for missing plants usually is less than 1 percent of the U.S. head kill totals.

FI data are summarized weekly and accumulated to a monthly total for this release. These weekly totals are published by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in Livestock, Meat, Wool Market News, Weekly Summary, and Statistics and are also available on the NASS website. NFI data are summarized monthly only.

error. However, they may be subject to errors such as omissions, duplications and mistakes in reporting, recording and processing the data. These errors are minimized through rigid quality controls in the edit and summarization process, and a careful review of all reported data for consistency and reasonableness.

No data are published when an individual plant’s data could be divulged. If not published, these data are still included in US and region totals. A review of the data is made annually to determine the publishable data.

Types of Livestock Slaughter Plants

There are generally four types of slaughtering plants.

  1. Federally Inspected (FI) Plants: Plants that transport meat interstate must employ federal inspectors to assure compliance with USDA standards. Any State whose commercial plants operate entirely under federal inspection may still have custom-exempt establishments for which NFI estimates are made.

  2. Talmedge-Aiken (TA) Plants: Slaughter plants in which USDA is responsible for inspection. However, federal inspection is carried out by State employees. These plants are considered to be federally inspected.

  3. Non-Federally Inspected (NFI) Plants: Plants which sell and transport only intrastate. State inspectors assure compliance with individual State standards for these NFI plants. Mobile slaughtering units are excluded and are considered farm slaughter.

  4. Custom-Exempt Plants: Plants that do not sell meat but operate on a custom basis only are custom-exempt. The animals and meat are not inspected, but the facilities must meet health standards. These are considered NFI plants and head kill is included in NFI totals.

Further Reading

More information - You can view the full report by clicking here.

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