Cattle Health

Spatio-temporal dynamics of condemnation cases in cattle slaughter plants in California and other US states from 2004-2015


The meat and cattle industry is the largest segment of U.S. agriculture. In 2015 the US commercial slaughter 28.74 million head with the commercial carcass weight of 23.69 billion pounds (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). Based on the data obtained from USDA in 2015, 141,450 carcasses were condemned in the US which is approximately 0.5% of the total cattle carcasses produced in the US. Beef price in 2015 was $6.29/lb (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) thus the condemned carcass in the slaughter plants roughly cost $0.81 billion (0.5% x 23.69 billion lb x $6.29/lb) to the US producers. California (CA) holds one of the most important cattle industries in the US. A total of 21.3% of all condemnation cases from 2005-2015 in slaughter plants in US occurred in CA (USDA), which corresponds to approximately to $1,38 billion (307,966 heads condemned x 714 lb/carcass x $6.29/lb) in the total period and $0.18 billion when considering only 2015. A better knowledge of the spatio-temporal distribution and potential reasons of carcasses condemnation will allow to identify areas where management practices should be improved to reduce the economic impact related with carcass condemnations. Moreover, diagnostic cases could be used to identify areas with higher than expected condemnation cases that could be associated to inappropriate management or for syndromic surveillance of emerging and new diseases. To the best of our knowledge, very few studies, if any, have assessed the spatial and temporal dynamics and the economic impact associated with beef/carcass condemnations or quantified the value that the use of post-mortem information may have for syndromic surveillance in the US. There is also a need to identify reasons for condemnation cases in CA and nationwide that may be increasing/emerging and identify clusters or “hot spot” areas where condemnations are more frequent and abundant. This study will provide the foundations to inform the design of future studies to identify the main on-farm management practices and other factors that are responsible for carcass condemnations in the US, which is highly needed1. This research-extension and multi-state study aims, first, to describe and compare the spatial and temporal trends of the reported cattle diagnostic cases in slaughter plants in CA with those in the US and identify temporal and spatial patterns of condemned cases and their associated economic impact. The second aim will be to develop an extension component that include the creation of a dynamic website and an on-line learning tool to increase awareness of produces about main reasons of carcass condemnation by slaughter plant, type of cattle and state and recommendations to prevent them.