Kansas feed yards slowed their sales to packer buyers in September in a dramatic way.
The data came from a monthly survey of representative feedlots around the state. These figures were then extrapolated and compiled by the Livestock Marketing Information Center to arrive at an approximate average for the whole state.
Kansas feedlots in September sold an average of 4,558 cattle to packers, down 1,505, or 24.8%, from the annual peak of 6,063 in August. However, estimated average Kansas feedlot marketings still were up 1,046 head, or 29.8%, from 3,512 in September of 2015.
FOLLOWING TREND? WELL, SORT OF
In a sense, September’s decline in feedlot closeouts was normal. Sales to packers generally dip in September as numbers decline. The 2010-2014 average has September as the lowest of the year, followed closely by November.
It must be remembered, however, that the 2010-2014 average encompassed the last years of the extended drought so comparisons must be taken with a grain of salt.
The data show that total numbers of fed cattle sold to packers has been above the average ever since February of last year. In fact, this year’s feedlot closeouts have been well above last year or the five-year average all year, the greatest monthly difference being in March when an average of 2,755 head more were sold to packers.
Coincidentally, the greatest difference in Kansas feedlot closeouts compared with last year also came in March when 2,551 more were sold.
WEIGHTS NOT KEEPING UP
However, the final weights of Kansas steers headed to town fell behind a year earlier in August and remained below 2015 in September.
That falling behind in slaughter weights may help explain some of the aggressiveness of packer buyers in October this year. Their own margins are thought to be well into the black, and to get the tonnage of beef they need to fill contractual obligations, they need to kill more cattle.
Steer slaughter weights in Kansas have more closely paralleled the five-year average than last year’s numbers since about June. There has even been a slight narrowing of the difference over time.
And since the average slaughter weights tend to flatten out through the end of the year, a general flattening of Kansas slaughter weights can be extrapolated through December.
But as fewer yearlings enter the slaughter mix during the first quarter, slaughter weights can be expected to decline.
Just when, or if, slaughter weights will cross below the average is difficult to predict, but sometime next summer would seem to be a reasonable guess as the 2010-2014 average becomes the 2011-2015 average.
Kansas’ 2017 slaughter weights could flatten with most of the corn crop now under roof, as the average rises.
CASH CATTLE MARKETS QUIET
Cash cattle markets Monday were quiet with a few bids at $102 per cwt on a live basis. Cattle sold last week at mostly $105, and feedlot slowlists this week were estimated to be smaller overall. No dressed-basis bids or offers were heard, but cattle sold last week from $162 to $164.
The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was $1.43 per cwt lower at $187.27, while select was off $0.71 at $172.32. The choice/select spread narrowed to $14.95 from $15.67 with 102 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Friday was $126.49 per cwt, up $0.43. This compares with Monday’s Nov settlement at $124.07, down $1.55.