WASHINGTON – Total US red meat production was 49.6 billion lbs. in 2012, slightly higher than the previous year, according to the US Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service. Red meat production in commercial plants totaled 49.4 billion lbs., while on-farm slaughter totaled 113 million lbs. Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Texas accounted for 49 percent of US commercial red meat production in 2012, similar to 2011.

Beef production declined 1 percent to 26.0 billion lbs., NASS reported. Veal production declined 8 percent to 125 million lbs., while pork production, at 23.3 billion pounds, was 2 percent above 2011 levels. Lamb and mutton production totaled 161 million lbs., up 5 percent from 2011.

Commercial cattle slaughter during 2012 declined 3 percent to 33.0 million head, with federal inspection comprising 98.4 percent of the total, according to NASS. The average live weight was 1,302 lbs., up 25 lbs. from a year ago. Steers comprised 49.8 percent of the total federally inspected cattle slaughter, heifers 28.6 percent, dairy cows 9.6 percent, other cows 10.3 percent, and bulls 1.7 percent.

Commercial calf slaughter was 9 percent lower at 772,100 head, with 98.4 percent under federal inspection. The average live weight was 260 lbs., down 3 pounds from a year earlier.

Commercial hog slaughter was 2 percent higher at 113.2 million head, with 99.2 percent of the hogs slaughtered under federal inspection, NASS said. The average live weight was unchanged at 275 lbs. Barrows and gilts comprised 97.0 percent of the total federally inspected hog slaughter.

Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter climbed 1 percent to 2.18 million head, NASS reported. Federal inspection accounted for 92.2 percent of the total. The average live weight was up 5 lbs. from 2011 at 143 lbs. Lambs and yearlings comprised 92.9 percent of the total federally inspected sheep slaughter.

There were 806 plants slaughtering under federal inspection on Jan. 1, 2013 compared with 867 a year ago. Of these, 627 plants slaughtered at least one head of cattle during 2012 with the 14 largest plants slaughtering 55 percent of the total cattle killed.

Hogs were slaughtered at 600 plants, with the 12 largest plants accounting for 57 percent of the total, NASS said. Five of the 206 plants that slaughtered calves accounted for 57 percent of the total and three of the 507 plants that slaughtered sheep or lambs in 2012 comprised 60 percent of the total head.