Kansas February Fats Spent More Time Getting There

Kansas fed cattle that were sold to packers for slaughter, or marketed, in February spent more time on feed than either their 2017 counterparts or those sold in the 2012-2016 timeframe.

The data comes from a monthly Kansas State University survey of select, representative, feedlots.  Data from these facilities is compiled and extrapolated by the Livestock Marketing Information Center to give a representation of activity in the whole state.




A feedlot manager said the increase in the number of days it took to get steers and heifers ready for a February date with destiny in Kansas likely was because a larger-than-normal percentage of them were placed on feed at lighter-than-normal weights and younger-than-normal ages.  Available pastures, especially wheat pastures, were growing thin last summer and fall, sending younger and lighter calves to the feedlots.

When very young calves are placed on feed, they must be given time to grow.  Thus, the longer time spent in the feedlot.

Such reasoning fits the data since most other aspects of the February marketings from Kansas feedlots falls into near-normal ranges.  The number of fed cattle sold to feedlots in February was down from January and remained between last year and the previous five-year average.

Final weights also were down in February from January, which also is a normal trend.  Steer weights were near the 2012-2016 average in February.

The KSU survey data also revealed that average daily gain for the cattle marketed in February was down from January and followed the general trend.

The feedlot manager said that with all other reference points in the cattle’s lives near normal, except for the number of days on feed, it fit with his experience of feeding more, younger cattle into the winter.




The average amount of time that steers marketed in February by Kansas feedlots spent bellying up to the feed bunk was 176 days, the calculations showed.  This was up from January’s 167 and up 12, or 7.32%, from 164 in February a year earlier.  February’s days-on-feed total also was up 16.4, or 10.3%, from the 2012-2016 average of 159.6.





The story was similar for heifers.  The difference wasn’t as dramatic at first glance, but days on feed went up from January, a counter-seasonal move.

The average number of days Kansas feedlot heifers spent on feed before being marketed in February was 161, up from 158 in January and up 12, or 8.05%, from 149 a year earlier.  The average days on feed also was up 9.8, or 6.48%, from the 2012-2016 average of 151.2.

Heifer days on feed usually decline in February from January before moving higher to peak in May.




Cattle sold Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange Video Auction at $117 per cwt, down $8.63 from two weeks earlier.

Cash trade was seen this week from $115 to $118 per cwt on a live basis, down $3.50 to $4 from last week.  Dressed-basis trading was light at $188, down $4.

The USDA’s choice cutout Thursday was down $3.08 per cwt at $215.09, while select was up $0.13 at $206.31.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $8.78 from $11.99 with 119 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Wednesday, was $135.31 per cwt, up $0.81.  This compares with Thursday’s Apr settlement of $137.47, up $2.97.