Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

James G. Snell

Committee Members

Luther H. Keller, Joe A. Martin


This study was undertaken, primarily to provide a starting point for future research into the effect the Tennessee Meat and Poultry Inspection Act may have on the structure of the slaughtering and processing sector in Tennessee, Specifically, the objectives are: (1) to determine by area and county the number of broilers and livestock produced, the number of commercial farms involved, and the average size and distribution of size for swine, beef, and broiler producers, (2) to determine the type of livestock marketing channels available for each county, some indication of their volume, and a discussion of the marketing arrangements for broilers, (3) to determine the number, location, and size of the present slaughtering and processing firms in Tennessee.

Data were obtained from secondary sources, primarily census reports, the records of the Division of Food and Drugs, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and the records of the Packers and Stockyard Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.

The location of cattle and calf production was widely spread throughout the state. Of the total number of cattle sold. Middle Tennessee was the largest producing area, followed by West Tennessee. The greatest concentration of cattle by county was in middle Middle Tennessee and upper West Tennessee. Middle Tennessee also sold the highest percentage of calves of the three areas observed. The greatest concentration of calves by county was also found in middle Middle Tennessee, with the upper section of West Tennessee the next most concentrated area of the state. The average number of cattle sold per commercial farm was 9.63 head for the state. The average size of the cattle farm in the state was primarily small in terms of head sold, with a few large units, and with the average size unit increasing as we move from East to West Tennessee. The average number of calves sold was almost 12 head per commercial farm for the state. The size of the calf production unit can be summerized as mostly small, with the smallest average sale per firm in East Tennessee, followed somewhat closely by West Tennessee, with Middle Tennessee farms the largest.

Hog and pig production is highly concentrated in certain sections of West Tennessee, scattered generally throughout Middle Tennessee, with very few hogs and pigs sold in East Tennessee. The highest concentration of swine by county is in upper West Tennessee. The smallest average sale per farm was found in East Tennessee. Middle and West Tennessee had about the same percentage of small producers, with West Tennessee having a higher percentage of large producers and therefore a larger average sale per farm.

Broiler production took place primarily in East Tennessee, secondarily in Middle Tennessee, with West Tennessee producing very few birds. The production units were quite large, with the state average of 41,442 birds per firm. Most broilers are produced by vertically integrated firms. This results in a very few live broilers entering a market. Production prices are therefore determined by bargaining between producer and processor.

The marketing sector is made up of three types of livestock markets, terminal, auction, and country markets. Country markets include packer and independent buying stations, order buyers, and dealers. There were two terminal markets available for the sale of livestock, one in Memphis, the other in Nashville. Auction markets were generally located throughout the state. Country buying stations were located mostly near the packer plants. There were 18 packer buying stations and 12 Independent buying stations. There were 13 order buyers registered in the state, with their locations generally spread throughout Tennessee. All the commission firms, 43 of the auction markets, and 157 registered dealers operated in Tennessee. The highest concentration of dealers was in Middle Tennessee, with the remainder generally located throughout East and West Tennessee.

The slaughtering and processing industry contains a relatively few firms. Furthermore, most of the meat slaughtering and processing firms are small. Many of the slaughtering plants, especially the large federally inspected plants are located in or near the large urban areas. The same is true of meat processing plants. Poultry eviscerating and processing occur in a very few firms with large volumes. Most of these firms are located in Davidson, Knox, and Hamilton counties.

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