Wet, muddy conditions have been affecting feedlot performance from last fall into the winter months. According to Steiner Consulting Group (SCG), writing in the “Daily Livestock Report,” average daily gain was depressed in December, dropping by 0.31 lb. (3.5%) year over year.
“The amount of feed required to achieve each pound of gain surged for animals sold in November and December,” SCG noted. That was an increase of 0.3 lb., up 5.0%, compared to the prior year.
“During the fall months of 2018, challenging feedlot conditions were widespread. Mud was especially problematic in Kansas, much of Nebraska and in several Midwestern states. Those conditions impacted the timing and weight of cattle marketed,” the group reported.
SCG said without the abnormal conditions, the number of steers and heifers sold in December would have been higher. The animals would have also probably weighed more.
Placements into feedlots were also dampened by muddy feedlots as pens are difficult to clean, processing is challenging and producers do not want to stress young cattle.
According to SCG, the average cost of gain for steers sold in December was $80.31/cwt., up $3.96/cwt. compared to last year. Cost of gain for heifers averaged $83.75, up $5.50/cwt.
While some of that higher cost of gain can be attributed to a rise in feed costs, poor feedlots were also to blame.
SCG said weather impacts on animal performance will continue to linger as January brought harsh weather, and more mud is likely in February. As such, steer and heifer dressed weights are projected to be below 2018 levels for the first quarter of 2019, the group said.
“When the mud finally subsides, demand for feeder cattle may improve, bunching up placements,” SCG said.