The livestock market is volatile due to changes in domestic markets, international markets, weather conditions and the close relationship between livestock and grain markets. The livestock industry consists of people who breed, raise, buy and sell livestock, including cattle, horses, sheep, swine and ratites.
The Internal Revenue Service describes the livestock market as a true supply and demand economy, so people in the livestock industry may experience extreme profits or losses from one year to the next. Emerging health information is part of this supply and demand, as the public reacts to new information released by the media, such as England's mad cow disease outbreak. Some producers increase production when market prices are high, which floods the market and causes prices to fall.
People in the livestock market typically work as breeders or as fattening or feed operations. Breeders begin their operations by purchasing animals with proven reproductive histories, including a single male and several females. Fattening or feeding operations purchase young or mid-maturity animals and feed them until the animals are ready for slaughter. Fattening or feeding operations castrate male animals to make the fattening process more effective and to eliminate aggressive behaviors. Animals unfit for human consumption are sold through special sales to slaughterhouses that use the animals for other purposes.