Kansas Feedlot Efficiency Dips In July

Kansas feedlots became less efficient in July as summer heat robbed cattle of their ability to convert feed into beef and bone, according to extrapolated data collected by Kansas State University.

Each month, the KSU Extension service collects closeout data from volunteer feedlots in the state and infers a statewide data set from which the Livestock Marketing Information Center compiles a series of graphs that illustrate Kansas feedlot activities.  The data is useful in that it shows some things USDA data does not, including the pounds of feed on a dry basis needed to add a pound of gain to steers and heifers.

In July, the pounds of feed per pound of gain for steers rose as it did last year but was the opposite of the 2010-2014 average.

Up until July, closeouts had been following the general trend of the 2010-2014 average and working lower.  This left the 2015 closeouts much higher only to turn lower in August as new-crop corn became available to the feedlots.

In July, the pounds of feed needed for a pound of gain in the steers was 5.98, up 0.10 pound, or 1.70%, from 5.88 pounds in June.  July’s feed-conversion rate also was down 0.23 pound, or 3.70%, from 6.21 pounds last year but was up 0.262 pound, or 4.58%, from the five-year average of 5.718 pound.

The number of steers marketed, or sold to packers, by Kansas feedlots in July dropped sharply from June and is approaching last year and the 2010-2014 average.  However, the number remains well above both historical lines.

The average number of steers sold to packers in July was 4,592 head, compared with 4,100 in July 2015 and the previous five-year average of 3,644.




At the same time, the number of heifers sold to packers in July continued to rise.  This gives rise to thoughts that herd rebuilding among cow/calf producers may be slowing.  The data is too incomplete to draw this conclusion, but the suggestion is compelling.

In July, Kansas feedlots sold an average of 4,377 heifers for slaughter.  This is up 585, or 15.4%, from 3,791 in June and up 1,024, or 30.5%, from 3,353 in July 2015 but up only 106, or 2.49%, from the five-year average of 4,270.

The key will be August and September heifer sales compared with last year.  The 2010-2014 average almost doesn’t count since it includes years when the cattle cycle was approaching and setting its latest low.

Feeding efficiency for heifers continued to rock along in July at a steady clip of 6.33 pounds of feed per pound of gain.  So far this year, heifer feeding efficiency has held between 6.25 and 6.38 pounds.

Feed efficiency going forward will be something to watch as cattle react to new corn and rejiggered rations.




Cash cattle markets Tuesday were steady with Monday at $110 per cwt on a live basis and $175 dressed.  However, these prices were $4 to $5 lower than last week live and $5 to $8 lower dressed.

The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was $1.80 per cwt lower at $196.62, while select was off $1.17 at $191.17.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $5.45 from $6.08 with 109 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $144.18 per cwt, down $0.12.  This compares with the Aug settlement Wednesday of $142.52, up $3.37.