The Stock Yards

Producers Livestock Association
Producers Livestock Association, Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Photo by Alison Wolfgram

Farmers in Knox County take their animals to Producers Livestock Association. Here at the stock yards livestock are sold to the top bidders in a weekly auction. Buyers from all over the United States come to see what Knox County has to offer. Ownership of an animal or animals goes to the person that is willing to pay the greatest amount of money. The buyer may be a farmer (interested in feeder cattle or expanding his or her dairy herd), packer, or feedlot representative. The cattle are then loaded onto the respective trucks and continue their journey to either the farm, feedlot, or packinghouse.

This process of buying or selling livestock through an open auction occurs all over the United States. Auctions such as these are referred to as a cash market. The buying or selling price of cattle is influenced by the condition of the animal, the current and projected supply of meat, and the current and projected demand for the product. If supply is low demand is high; therefore, the price is high. However, if supply is high and demand is low then the price is low. The futures markets reduce the risk of changing prices in the cash market.

Forty-two cattle are being loaded onto a truck headed to a slaughtering and packing facility in Johnsville, Illinois. A grocery chain has already purchased the meat.
Loading cattle onto a semi-truck
Photo by Alison Wolfgram

Cattle on a semi-truck
Photo by Alison Wolfgram
Auctions can occur anywhere where there is a buyer and a seller. The Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange provide a central market for the buying and selling of agricultural products. Auctions at the stock yards represent the cash market; auctions at the Board of Trade and the Mercantile Exchange represent the futures market. Chicago Board of Trade
Chicago Board of Trade

Moo Wonder iconWhat do you think happens at the slaughterhouse?

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