Kansas Feedlots Sell More Cattle In December

Kansas feedlots finished 2019 by selling more fed cattle to packers in December than they did in November, but the pace of sales remained below December 2018 and the 2013-2017 average.

The data came from a survey of selected feedlots around the state by the Kansas State University Extension Service.  This data then was extrapolated to give a statistical representation of activity across the state and compiled by the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver.

The extrapolated data showed that, on average, Kansas feedlots sold 4,284 head of slaughter-ready cattle to packer buyers in December, up 586, or 15.8%, from 3,698 in November.  However, it was 1,143 head, or 21.1%, below the year-earlier number of 5,427 and 422 head, or 8.97%, below the previous five-year average of 4,706.

For the year, Kansas feedlots shuffled an average of 50,832 head off to packing plants, down 4,205, or 7.64%, from 2018’s 55,037-head average but 3,643, or 7.72%, more than the 2013-2017 average of 47,189 head.




There was a good reason Kansas feedlots were willing to part with more fed cattle in December.  The cattle weighed more.

The extrapolated KSU data showed that the final weights of fed cattle from Kansas feedlots went above average and 2018 in November and moved a little higher in December.

On average, fed steers coming out of Kansas feedlots in December weighed 1,464 pounds, up three, or 0.21%, from November’s 1,461.  This also was 30 pounds, or 2.09%, more than the December 2018 average weight of 1,434 pounds and 33 pounds, or 2.31%, more than the 2013-2017 average weight of 1,431 pounds.

In sum, the average weight of Kansas feedlot cattle that went to slaughter last year was 1,397 pounds, down one from the 2018 average and the previous five-year average of 1,398 pounds.

Average exit weights from Kansas feedlots in January likely will be lower, if history holds true.  January weights usually are down about 20 pounds from December.




The average number of days Kansas fed cattle occupied space in Kansas feedlots went up for those sent to slaughter in December.  This is a common trend, even though the average November-to-December gain was sharper than the five-year average.

On average, the extrapolated data showed that cattle sent to the packing plants in December from Kansas feedlots spent 171 days on feed.  This was up four, or 2.40%, from 167 in November, down four, or 2.89%, from 175 days in December 2018 but up 14.8 pounds, or 9.48%, from the 2013-2017 average of 156.2 days.

Cattle spent more time in Kansas feedlots last year, the data showed.  The average period of time it took to reach market weight was 178 days, up 5.3, or 3.07%, from 172.7 in 2018 and up 18.3, or 11.5%, from the previous five-year average of 159.7 days.




Cash cattle trading was reported last week in the Plains at $121 per cwt, down $1 to $1.50 from the previous week, with some in the western Corn Belt at $122.  Dressed-basis trading came in at $192 to $193, down $2.

The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $1.21 per cwt at $208.91, while select was off $0.19 at $203.70.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $5.21 from $6.23 with 78 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

No futures contracts were tendered for delivery Monday.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday was $140.41 per cwt, down $0.22.  This compares with Monday’s Mar contract settlement of $135.70, up $0.50.