SPRINGDALE, Ark. – After an August fire that halted cattle shipments and slaughter operations at its Holcomb, Kansas, processing plant, officials with Tyson Foods Inc. announced the repairs at the facility are nearing completion and the company expects shipments of live cattle to resume in December. Of Tyson’s seven beef-processing plants, the Holcomb facility’s 6,000 head-per-day capacity is second only to the Dakota City, Nebraska, operation, with a capacity of 7,000 head per day.
The company said operations at Holcomb will begin ramping up in early December and expects it to be back to normal operating levels by early January. Officials acknowledged that the impact of removing more than 30,000 head per week from the supply chain had a ripple effect across the industry, despite its efforts to divert shipments to its six other facilities.
“We recognize the disruption the fire caused for our suppliers and our customers and are more than pleased to announce we are in the final stages of reconstruction,” stated Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, the company’s pork and beef processing business segment based in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.
The impact of the fire caused operations in the slaughter area of the plant to cease immediately while further processing was able to continue. The company said the damage affected the electrical system and hydraulics that served the slaughter floor and adjacent cooler space. While some employees were diverted to other plants during the repairs, many worked at the Holcomb plant to assist with clean-up and the reconstruction process. Repairs included replacing the roof and its support beams as well as installing new hydraulic systems and extensive rewiring of new electrical panels and equipment.
“Our team is ready to begin the process of ramping back up, recognizing that there will be testing and adjustments over the first few weeks to ensure equipment functionality while maintaining our commitment to team member safety and food safety,” Stouffer said.