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CME: Major Cattle Feeding Stations Battle Harsh Winter Weather

08 April 2019

US - Data reported by Kansas State University (Focus on Feedlots closeout comparison for February) showed the impacts of severe winter weather and very muddy feedlot conditions, according to Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.

The monthly Focus on Feedlots summary is available here. In the surveyed Kansas feedlots, the average daily gain of steers sold in February (see the following graphic) was 3.43 pounds, down 0.5 pounds (-1.4 percent) from 2018’s, and declined by 4.1 percent compared to the prior 5-year average (2013-17).

More feed than usual was required for each pound gained. Pounds of feed (dry matter basis) needed per pound of gain increased (see the graphic below) by 2.2 percent year-over-year, and was 1.8 percent above the 2013-17 average.

Major cattle feeding states (i.e., Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa) have fought harsh winter weather and very muddy pens. Those conditions have combined with higher feedstuff costs compared to a year ago. So, the cost of gain in the Kansas survey for steers closedout in February was 5.7 percent ($4.53 per cwt.) above 2018’s. That is a significant year-over-year increase.

Impacted feedlots likely had losses on steers sold in February, where cattle sold from non-muddy feedlots may have posted small profits (based on all economic costs feeding-out a 750-pound animal in a commercial feedlot).

On a national scale, feeding conditions this past winter have manifested as lower dressed weights than a year ago. In data released last Thursday (for the week ending 23 March) by USDA, the Federally Inspected US steer carcass weight was 866 pounds, down 12 pounds from a year earlier and 2 pounds below the prior 5-year average (2013-17). Of course, the long-term trend is heavier carcass weights year-over-year.

When will steer weights return to year-earlier levels? Before we get into that, note that weights are highly seasonal (see the following graphic). The answer largely depends on how spring rainfall impacts pen conditions.

Also, the rate at which feedlots market cattle will be a factor (if market conditions allow for aggressive marketing rates weights may stay in-check longer). Currently, the Livestock Marketing Information Center projects that steer dressed weights match or slightly exceed a year ago in May. We will see if Mother Nature cooperates.


Daily Livestock Report - Copyright © 2008 CME. All rights reserved.


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