Testing ground beef for avian influenza roils commodities market

Producers and marketers can minimize pre-slaughter fasting stress in cattle by feeding animals regularly. And the practice could do a lot to maintain the normal balance of rumen microbes and suppress bacterial like E. coli 0157:H7.

Cattle futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange experienced volatility early last week as the USDA announced it would test ground beef for Bovine Influenza A virus (BIAV) from retail locations in the states where dairy herds have tested positive for the virus. The results reported all samples tested negative, reaffirming the beef supply is safe. Futures prices rallied late last week after the results were released.

The fed cattle market was higher last week. Packers are caught between negative margins and shrinking show lists. Used cow harvest continues to run behind the past two years and while that may prove beneficial for future beef supply, it has limited current availability of domestic lean trim and grind.

Last week’s harvest was 619,000 head, 6,000 higher than the previous week and 2,000 less than the same week a year ago. Last week, the Choice cutout value dropped $2.21 to average $294.51 but was $4.56 higher on Monday this week. The USDA testing results could be a contributing factor for the increase.

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