Livestock Slaughter

Data from federally and non-federally inspected slaughter plants are used to estimate total red meat production. This estimate consists of reporting the number of head slaughtered plus live and dressed weights for cattle, calves, hogs, and sheep. Also, number of head slaughtered only is estimated for goats, equine, and bison.

Livestock slaughter data are collected from nearly 800 federally inspected plants and over 2,000 plants under state inspection. Over 95 percent of the total U.S. slaughter for most species is under federal inspection.


Preliminary weekly totals are published online by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. Monthly and annual totals are published by NASS in the Livestock Slaughter release.

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Program Content

The number of head slaughtered plus live and dressed weights of cattle, calves, hogs, and sheep are reported. Information from federally and non-federally inspected slaughter plants is then summarized and used to estimate total red meat production. Additionally, the number of head slaughtered of goats, equine, and bison is reported.


Livestock estimates provide USDA and the livestock industry with basic data to project future meat supplies and producer prices. Agricultural economists in both the public and private sectors use this information in economic analysis and research.

Slaughter data from federally inspected plants are important to the Food and Safety and Inspection Service in fulfilling its responsibilities mandated by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 USC 620 and 661).

NASS uses these data internally to check previously published livestock inventory estimates.


Federally inspected data are summarized weekly and accumulated to a monthly total for the monthly release, while non-federally inspected data are summarized monthly only. An annual summary publication is released in April.


Primary data for the commercial livestock slaughter estimates are obtained from the daily reports submitted electronically by inspectors from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA, which provide actual counts of animals slaughtered in federally inspected plants. These counts are combined with data from state-administered non-federally inspected slaughter plants to derive total commercial slaughter estimates. Electronic submissions provide number of head slaughtered daily under federal inspection by species and class as well as total post-mortem condemnation and daily live and dressed weights. Data for missing submissions are imputed using the data history of the missing plant.

Related Programs

Hog Inventory
Sheep and Goat Inventory
Monthly Cattle on Feed
Cattle Inventory
Meat Animals: Production, Disposition, and Income

Last Modified: 12/12/2018