Kansas feedlot sales of fed cattle to packing plants rose in March, following, and remaining above, the 2014-2018 average trend.
The data comes from a monthly survey of selected, representative feedlots by the Kansas State University Extension Service. This data is then extrapolated to represent the state as a whole, compiled and distributed by the Livestock Marketing Information Service in Denver.
MARCH MARKETINGS UPTICK NORMAL
It is normal for feedlot marketings to rise in March, as they did this year when feedlots sold an average of 4,714 head to the packing plants, although last year’s March sales to packers averaged 2,640 per feedlot, well below the previous five-year average of 4,051 head.
This March’s sales were up from February’s 4,283 head by 431 head, or 10.1%. This year’s sales also were above last year by 2,074 head, or 78.6%, and above the 2014-2018 average by 663, or 16.4%.
If fed-cattle marketings from Kansas feedlots follow the usual pattern, they will increase into April.
However, many market analysts say they expect to see a large drop in April marketings to packing plants from Kansas feedlots. Significant plant shutdowns and slowed chain speeds because of COVID-19 infections among employees was a notable news event that almost emptied grocery shelves. They say it also will be interesting to see this month’s USDA Cold Storage report on March 21, as they expect to see a drawdown in stocks.
In fact, monthly Kansas feedlot offerings could diverge from normal by large margins, and 2020 feedlot marketings could remain mixed up for the rest of the year, they say. It will depend on whether the packing plants can attain some sort of normal throughput rate and make a run at catching up with feedlot marketing plans.
FINAL WEIGHTS REMAIN HIGH
While the backlog of slaughter-ready cattle in US feedlots is well publicized, it should be no surprise that slaughter weights nationwide and from Kansas feedlots in March remains much higher than last year of the 2014-2018 average.
The K-State Extension data showed that Kansas feedlot exit weights in March averaged 1,444 pounds, up 100, or 7.44%, from last year’s 1,344 pounds and up 58, or 4.18%, from the previous five-year average of 1,386 pounds.
The up-move in feedlot exit weights in March from February runs counter to the typical trend. Generally, feedlot sales weights decline in March as the previous fall’s calf placements fatten and get ready for slaughter.
That trend continues until April when the annual low in monthly slaughter rates is set. From then on, average feedlot exit weights rise into the annual high in November.
DAYS ON FEED RISE
The data showed that the cattle that were sold to packers in March spent more days on feed, at 178, than those that were sold in February at 175. However, they spent fewer than last year’s 183 but more than the 2014-2018 average of 165.6.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Fed cattle trade was reported this week at $110 to $117 per cwt on a live basis, up $2 to $15 from last week. Dressed-basis trading was seen at $170 to $185 per cwt, up $5 to $30 from last week.
The USDA choice cutout Wednesday was down $9.40 per cwt at $465.99, while select was down $13.73 at $437.24. The choice/select spread widened to $28.75 from $24.42 with 74 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $123.52 per cwt, up $0.41. This compares with Wednesday’s May contract settlement of $125.30, down $2.00.