Wintry weather played havoc with cattle growth and fattening rates in the Plains, and nowhere was this more apparent than in Kansas, according to data collected from feedlots by the Kansas State University Extension Service.
The data was then given to the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver for processing and evaluation. The data collected from select feedlots across the state is compiled and extrapolated to give an estimate of the whole state’s activities in a given month.
The March data showed some significant declines from the 2013-2017 average and from last year in terms of numbers sold for slaughter and the final weight of the steers and heifers as they exited the feedlots.
NUMBERS SOLD NOSEDIVE
The number of cattle sold to packers, or marketed, from Kansas feedlots in March averaged 2,640 head, down 1,990, or 43.0%, from 4,630 in February. The March sales pace also was down 1,882, or 41.6%, from last year’s 4,522 head and down 991, or 27.3%, from the previous five-year average of 3,631.
The downward thrust in March was contrary to the norm. The 2013-2017 average shows an increase in sales during March from an annual low in February.
This year’s March totals dropped below February, possibly creating the annual monthly low point in 2019 monthly sales totals. This could lead those following what the Kansas feedlots do to think April’s sales totals from Kansas feedlots would jump.
That’s very possible, an analyst said, since the 2013-2017 average angles up from March, even though April 2018 marketings were down from March 2018 because last April’s marketings number still was above the previous five-year average.
FINAL WEIGHTS PLUNGE
Kansas feedlot operators may have been holding cattle back from slaughter to allow the animals time to regain weight lost to winter’s blasts, the analyst said. A telling indicator is the low weight of the fed steers going to slaughter.
Steers were sold to packers from Kansas feedlots in March at an average weight of 1,344 pounds, down 48, or 3.45%, from 1,392 in February and 22 pounds, or 1.61%, below the March 2018 average of 1,366 pounds and 38.8 pounds, or 2.81%, the 2013-2017 average of 1,382.8 pounds, the data showed.
It’s really little wonder the final weights of steers being sent to slaughter were down, the cold weather apparently hurt the rate at which the cattle grew and gained weight over the winter. The K-State data showed that the cattle sold for slaughter in March gained an average of 3.13 pounds a day while they were in the lots.
That was down 0.3 pound, or 8.75%, from the 3.43 pounds a day gained by cattle sold to packers in February and was 0.32 pound, or 9.28%, off the 3.45-pound pace of a year ago and 0.358 pound, or 10.3%, below the 2013-2017 average of 3.488 pounds.
And it took much more feed to add those pounds. It took an average of 6.97 pounds of feed per pound of gain, vs 6.19 last year.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trading was reported last week at $123 to $124 per cwt on a live basis, down $3 from the previous week. Dressed-basis trade was reported at $200 per cwt, down $5.
The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $0.36 per cwt at $227.00, while select was up $0.69 at $213.98. The choice/select spread narrowed to $13.02 from $14.07 with 70 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Thursday, was $141.20 per cwt, down $2.70. This compares with Monday’s May contract settlement of $136.02, down $1.12.