Packing Plants Feel the Pressure

Even though last week’s slaughter was disappointing, the marketplace hopes to have a robust kill this week to help restock depleted coolers. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Victoria G. Myers)

With last week’s slaughter being estimated at a measly 552,000 head (down 56,000 head from the previous week and 74,000 head lower than a year ago) the entire marketplace is going to be fixated on tracking this week’s slaughter and praying for an aggressive slaughter week ahead.

Like the rest of the livestock industry, packing plants faced challenges last week that were widespread. They included the inability to safely haul cattle, worker absenteeism, shortages of natural gas and loss of power, which all led to a lighter weekly kill at a time when beef is being highly sought after.

Thankfully, this week is already off to a better start with Monday’s slaughter estimated at 119,000 head — 40,000 head more than a week ago (remember that last Monday was Presidents Day) and 2,000 head more than a year ago. With packers having every incentive needed to run vigorous processing schedules, by Saturday the week’s slaughter is expected to land somewhere between 650,000 and 660,000 head, which would help restock depleted meat coolers.

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