Feedout Steers Perform Well, Still Lose Money

MU Extension specialist gives latest report from Missouri Steer Feedout.

Published on: Jan 5, 2010
Entries in the recent Missouri Steer Feedout performed well but still ended up losing money, according to Eldon Cole, a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist.

"The 90 steers that were harvested in Iowa, performed admirably when gain, conversion and carcass merit were considered," said Cole. "But they still came in with an average loss per head of $72.51."

There were eight consignors of the steers and only two groups showed a feeding profit. The profitability was largely due to a low set-in value placed on them by a USDA market evaluator. The early-June price was $88 per cwt for the 634 to 658 pounders.  In contrast, the set-in price of the other six groups ranged from $94 to $112.73. One steer died early in the feeding period which didn't help the profit picture either, according to Cole.

"All the steers qualified for the age- and source-verified premium from Tyson's, which was $35 per head. Without that bonus, the per head feeding loss would have been around $100," Cole notes.

The steers were fed in the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity program in southwest Iowa, where more than 6,100 cattle have been fed from around the country over the last 12 months.

"When compared to those steers other 6,100 steers, the Missouri cattle stack up favorably," Cole says.

For example, the overall daily gain for the Missouri steers was 3.74 lbs. (compared to 3.39 for the 6,100); feed to gain 5.93 lbs. (6.68); percent low Choice or better 55% (61); percent Yield Grade 1 and 2's 74% (59); fat cover .43 inch with the industry average running .52 inch.

The steers were fed 158 days with a harvest weight of 1,237 pounds and a carcass average weight of 760 pounds. The average age at harvest was 424 days. The average cost of gain per hundredweight was $68.46.

Cole says that the low profit situation is similar around the country, in part due to weak beef demand. The cattle were sold on a grid with an average Choice-Select spread of $5.58 at the two harvest dates. The average carcass price paid was $128.07 when the premiums and discounts are factored in.

"The feedout program gives producers a chance to see if they're on the right track genetically and management-wise. It would be nice if feeding profits were there all the time, but it just doesn't work that way," Cole says.

The veteran livestock specialist adds that cow-calf folks should pay attention to the genetic factors from the data collected in the feedouts to make adjustments in their breeding and selection program.

Currently, the Missouri Feedout has 192 steers on feed in Iowa, due for harvest in April and May.  Cole hopes the profit picture for these steers will be positive.

For more details on the feedout program and using feedlot and carcass closeout data to improve your feeder cattle marketing plan, contact your area MU Extension livestock specialist.

Source: MU Extension Southwest Region News Service