The Livestock Marketing Information Center reports that cattle performance in Kansas feedyards improved during February and generally topped expectations.

According to Kansas State Extension's "Kansas Feedlot Performance and Feed Cost Summary", data on steers and heifers closed out during February provided a bit of a mixed story. Extended periods of cold, wet weather made feeding conditions difficult in Kansas and across the Plains states this winter. But in spite of weather-related challenges, feedlot performance was better than expected. Compared to January's closeouts, death losses reported in the February closeouts were down and were near normal levels.

Kansas steers closed out during February weighed an average of 1,224 pounds, 17 pounds lighter than one year ago and 4 pounds below the five-year average. On average, the steers spent 139 days in the feedlot, similar to a year ago and the average for February closeouts. Steers gained an average 3.34 pounds per day, similar to the same period last year. February steer closeouts converted feed at an average of 6.05 pounds of feed on a dry matter basis per pound of gain. Overall, steer feed efficiency was better than January's and better than a year ago, according to the report. The average cost of gain was $46.97 per hundredweight, up about 50 cents from January and about $3.20 per hundredweight above a year earlier.

Heifers closed out in February spent an average 141 days in feedlots, more than a year earlier, but similar to average. Average daily gains for heifers, at 3.02 pounds during February, declined from January and from one year earlier. Feed efficiency also declined, and average cost of gain, at $50.42 per hundredweight, increased by $4.90 per hundredweight from one year earlier.

Most steers closed out in February turned a profit, except in areas with very severe weather, according to LMIC. The Center’s projections suggest that average cash market profits for steers sold in February were about $40 per head. Positive feeding returns this summer, analysts note, could be difficult to achieve depending on prices for feeder cattle and corn.