Kansas Feedlots Sell Fewer Cattle In February

Kansas feedlots sold fewer cattle to beef packing plants in February than in January, but the rate of decline was less steep than either last year or the 2014-2018 average.

The information came from a monthly survey of select Kansas feedlots by the Kansas State University Extension Service.  The data then was extrapolated to give a picture of average feedlot activity across the state and compiled by the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver.

Average February marketings to packing plants declined to 4,283 head from 4,416 in January, a decline of 133 head, or 3.01%.

However, that month-to-month decline is not as steep as in other years.  Last year, for example, the January-to-February decline was 501 head, or 9.76%, going to 4,630 from 5,131.  The previous five-year average January-to-February decline was 616 head, or 15.3%, going to 3,415 from 4,031.

Month-to-month sales in March are mixed.  The five-year-average pattern is for an increase, going to 4,051 head from February’s movement out of Kansas feedlots.  However, last year, the March movement to slaughter came to 2,640 head, a steep decline from February’s total.

But next month notwithstanding, the general trend of feedlot sales to packers tends to increase into June with only a slight dip in May, which is so shallow, it isn’t much of a trend.




A larger bearish factor for cattle feeders is that the weights of cattle exiting the feed yard for the packing plant remain elevated from last year and the 2014-2018 average.  The average weight of cattle marketed from Kansas feedlots in February was 1,439 pounds, down 11, or 0.76%, from 1,450 in January.

That might be bullish for cattle feeders, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s normal for closeout weights to decline in February from January.  Last year, February closeout weights were 1,392 pounds, down 11, or 0.78%, from 1,403 in January; and the previous five-year average weight in February came to 1,402.4 pounds, down 9.8, or 0.69%, from 1,412.2.

If the five-year average trend holds, feedlot exit weights will continue to decline in March and will set an annual low in April, although last year, the annual low weight came in March.




The average number of days the cattle sold in February were on feed rose from January marketings.  This mirrored the 2014-2018 average trend but countered last year’s unusual decline.  The result was that the days on feed for February marketings was up from last year and the previous five-year average.

The cattle sold from Kansas feedlots in February, spent an average of 175 days munching grain rations there before being sold to the packers.  This was up seven, or 4.17%, from 168 for cattle marketed in January.

February’s days on feed also was up three, or 1.74%, from 172 last year and up 10, or 6.06%, from the 2014-2018 average of 165.




Cash cattle traded in the Plains last week at $112 to $113 per cwt on a live basis, down $6 to $7 from the previous week.  Dressed-basis trade took place at $178 to $180, down $10.

The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $0.39 per cwt at $230.05, while select was down $0.81 at $215.03.  The choice/select spread widened to $15.02 from $14.60 with 129 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

There were no deliveries against the Apr futures contract tendered on Monday.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday was $119.38 per cwt, down $1.69.  This compares with Monday’s Apr contract settlement of $110.42, up $2.17.