Kansas Feedlots Staying With Heavy Fed Cattle

As feedlot losses continue to mount with extreme per-head losses, Kansas feedlots aren’t trying very hard to get out from under their heavyweight cattle, a university survey revealed.

A monthly sampling of Kansas feedlots by the Kansas State University extension service showed the average number of cattle sold to packers per feed yard for slaughter in October was an estimated 3,826 head.  This was up 314 head or 8.94% from 3,512 in September and was because there were more cattle in the feedlots.

Compared with a year earlier, individual feedlot sales were up 1,322 head, or 52.8%, from 2,504 head, and they were up 844, or 28.3%, from the previous five-year average of 2,982.

In addition, the upswing from September marketings was normal, and marketing numbers alone can’t show whether slaughter cattle weights were biased to the high or low side of acceptable.



This Livestock Marketing Information center graph of closeout weights of steers from Kansas feedlots shows what the marketing numbers can’t – that final weights of steers keep climbing.  The average weight of slaughter steers from the sample feedlots in October was 1,472 pounds, up 57 pounds, or 4.03%, from 1,415 last year.  October weights also were up 91 pounds, or 6.59% from the previous five-year average of 1,381.

Feeding costs drifted lower in October, remaining well below last year and the 2009-2013 average, allowing the weight gains.  One feedlot manager said that as long as the cost of gain remained below the sale price per pound, it paid to put weight on cattle.



The K-State survey showed a remarkable jump in the average number of days cattle spent on feed prior to being sold to the packers.  A sharp, counter-seasonal jump in days fed shows that feedlot managers are following the rule of thumb about closeout weights versus cost of gain.

In October, average days on feed totaled 171, up 6.88% just from September’s 160, nearly tying the May peak of 173.  October days on feed also were up 7.55% from October 2014’s 159 days and were up 20.8% from the 2009-2013 average.




Cash fed cattle markets so far this week have been quiet with no packer bids reported.  Asking prices were about $5 to $7 higher at $132 per cwt.

Cash cattle trading last week ranged from $124 to $127 per cwt on a live basis and around $195 on a dressed basis.

Wholesale beef prices Tuesday were higher, with the USDA choice cutout at $203.81 per cwt, up $1.02 on the day, and its select cutout at $192.24, up $1.19.  The choice/select spread Tuesday narrowed to $11.57 from $11.74 on Monday, and there were 140 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $171.83 per cwt, up $0.32.  This compares with the Jan settlement Tuesday of $164.67, down $0.72.