Feedlots Work To Keep Inventories Current

Plains states cattle feedlots are said to be very current with their sales to packer buyers, and data show they continue to work toward keeping inventories current.

Data also show, feedlots got current with expanded sales in December, January and February.

Using Kansas feedlots as a proxy for the entire Plains states industry, March sales lagged a little from a year earlier, although they remained well above the 2011-2015 average.  The Kansas numbers were collected from select feedlots by the Kansas State University Extension Service and then extrapolated and compiled by the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

On average, Kansas feed yards were estimated to have sold 4,909 head to packer buyers in March, up 422, or 9.40%, from 4,487 in February.  The March increase was more aggressive than the 2011-2015 average, although not as aggressive as it was in the 2016 month.

March sales to packers, were below last year’s 5,621 head by 712, or 12.7%, but they were above the five-year average of 2,946 by 1,963, or 66.6%.




By combining the lower-than-last-year sale weights of Kansas steers to packer buyers with the aggressive nature of sales, it’s not difficult to see that feedlots are current with their marketing needs.

The K-State data show that cattle from Kansas feedlots went to slaughter at lower weights than last year in every month during the first quarter.

Closeout weights for fed steers in Kansas in March averaged 1,394 pounds.  This is down from February, but March slaughter weights have a strong seasonal tendency to fall through April when the number of lighter-weight fall placements declines.  What’s more important in this case is its comparison with last year and the previous five-year average.

The March sale weight was down by 36 pounds, or 2.52%, from last year’s 1,430 pounds.  However, this was up 45 pounds, or 3.34%, from the average of 1,349 pounds.




The average number of days the steers sold to packers in March spent munching grain rose seasonally, revealing that last year’s March downturn was an anomaly.

Kansas steers sold to packer buyers in March averaged 166 days on feed, up four, or 2.47%, from 162 last year and up 5.6 pounds, or 3.49%, from the 2011-2015 average of 160.4.

Last year, the number of days steers spent in Kansas feedlots peaked in February at 169 with a secondary peak in April of 168.  From there, they declined to the annual bottom of 150 in August.

On average, the number of days finished steers spent in Kansas feedlots peaks in May at 166.6, followed by a decline to the annual low in November of 147.2.