Slaughterhouses backed up for months due to COVID-19

Posted at 9:21 PM, Jul 03, 2020

SHELBYVILLE, Mich. — Local farmers say getting appointments to get their animals slaughtered is becoming a waiting game. The delay comes as in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to demand and slower production. It also comes as more and more consumers buy direct from local farmers.

Todd Brink, a cattle producer in Allegan County, has about 225 head of cattle.

Prior to the pandemic, Brink would receive about three calls a month from people hoping to buy direct. The number of calls has jumped to about 20, particularly when there was a shortage at the grocery stores due to 'panic buying.'

"We’ve always sold some privately but we’ve got a lot more calls because of this, a lot more calls," said Brink.

Any consumer who wants to buy direct now though will have to wait for possibly several months.

"Slaughter houses are backed up until January or February to get anything harvested right now," said Brink. "That's a little crazy."

Normal wait times range anywhere between two and four weeks.

Brink is lucky. He sent some of his cattle to be slaughtered prior to the pandemic, but for his next appointment, he is on a waiting list.

"That means , for our private customers, they have to think a little farther ahead."

If you do want to buy direct, consumers often benefit from a lower overall price, but it is a more costly upfront. For instance, a beef quarter will cost around $750.