Pasture lease rates were higher in the Flint Hills region of Kansas this year. That’s according to a bi-annual Kansas Bluestem Pasture Survey of producers in 14 counties conducted by the Kansas Department of Agriculture and Kansas State University, with polling from March to May.

Lease rates were $2.61/acre higher on land where cattle care is not provided, while the cost to graze a full season with care has jumped $50/head for steers and heifers under 700 lb. Custom grazing for 90 days with care went down about $9/head for light weight stockers in the past two years.

According to ranchers surveyed 92% of pasture was contracted for grazing during the 2016-2017 season. Only 19% was contracted for the entire year, with the majority being partial-season grazing at 47% and followed by full summer season at 19%. Partial-season grazing was defined as starting May 1 and ending August 1. Summer grazing starts May 1 and ends November 1.

The average price charged for full summer grazing with care provide in 2017 was $131.67/head for 700 lb. or lighter stocker cattle. In 2015, the price was just $81.67/head for both steers and heifers. To graze cow-calf pairs the price rose nearly $11/pair in 2017 to $190.92.

For partial-season grazing the price decreased for cattle weighing under 700 lb. In 2017, with care prices averaged $85.44/head, compared to $94.50/head for stockers under 700 lb.

It appears grazing heavier weight cattle could be more profitable for custom grazers on a 90 day season. Providing care to above 700 lb. steers or heifers yielded a $104.67/head price this year and cow-calf pairs were $178.89/pair. No data was taken in 2015 for this weight class of stocker, but cow-calf pairs were just $150/pair that year.

Pasture conditions were rated as being good in 44.7% by rancher in the native Bluestem pasture region, and 38.1% rated their conditions as excellent. Prior to grazing 88% of ranchers reported they would be burning pastures in 2017. Water appears to be in good supply with 74% saying it is adequate and 25% reporting a surplus of stock water.

For more information on the survey and to see further data, go to the following link.