Sort & Cull

The Cattle Complex Continues to Dance Around Land Mines

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
You are going to need to strategize selling your cattle regardless of what happens with this avian flu in cattle. (DTN file photo by Joel Reichenberger)

The cattle complex has been under pressure for the last two weeks as the market can't seem to muster the technical support it needs to refocus on its strong fundamental footing. The market's uneasiness seemed to begin to rattle upon the announcement there had been a small packing plant fire at the National Beef Plant in Liberal, Kansas, but then became even more unhinged once news broke about the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) being diagnosed in some dairy cattle.

The HPAI story continues to be the market's focal point. Even though the flu poses relatively low risks to the cattle affected, concerns about the flu mutating and becoming transmittable between cattle remains a top worry for the industry. And, unfortunately, the futures complex isn't faring well in the meantime.

The difficult thing about situations like these is that until disease specialists have the time they need to run the tests necessary to better understand this flu variant, panic and fear fly as everyone in the market wants to be ahead of the story as opposed to behind it.

For both your own peace of mind and the market's sanity, I wish I could come to you and tell you this is going to amount to nothing more than the common flu and this little storm in the market shall pass. But unfortunately, I can't confidently say that. I don't truthfully know if we'll talk about this matter just this week, or if we'll continue to deal with the spread of HPAI for months to come.

But what I can confidently share with you is that you're going to need to strategize selling your cattle in the meantime, regardless of what happens with this avian flu in cattle. I'd encourage you to think soundly and logically before simply reacting, and to keep in mind the market's strong fundamental basis hasn't changed. The market may be dancing around landmines right now, but that doesn't mean all its fundamental strength has disappeared.

At the time of this writing, the flu has been noted in five different states: Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, New Mexico and Idaho. And on Monday morning, it was noted a person in Texas in contact with dairy cows infected with a strain of HPAI now also has become ill with the virus. The CDC also noted there was a case of influenza A(H5N1) in a person in 2022 in Colorado.

See more DTN coverage:

"Patient in Texas Contracts Bird Flu After Close Contact With Dairy Cattle,"…

"Bird Flu Outbreak in Dairy Cows Spreads to Michigan, Idaho and New Mexico,"…

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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