Placements show temporary shift

Among feedyards with 1,000+-head capacities, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska in that order traditionally top the states in feeding numbers, says Darrell Mark, University of Nebraska economist. But severe winter weather, high corn prices and an abundance of ethanol-production byproducts has been shifting feeder numbers north in recent months. February cattle-on-feed data has Nebraska with the second-largest

Among feedyards with 1,000+-head capacities, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska — in that order — traditionally top the states in feeding numbers, says Darrell Mark, University of Nebraska economist. But severe winter weather, high corn prices and an abundance of ethanol-production byproducts has been shifting feeder numbers north in recent months.

February cattle-on-feed data has Nebraska with the second-largest number of cattle on feed in lots with 1,000+ head capacities, a 24% jump in numbers since September 2006. In addition, Iowa and South Dakota increased on-feed numbers by 17% and 48%, respectively, during the same time period.

Mark cites several reasons for the shift:

  • December-February winter storms in the Southern Plains substantially lowered feeding performance, resulting in fewer southern cattle placed on feed.

  • The average corn price in the Texas Triangle area was $3.73/bu. from September-February — 54¢/bu. higher than the average Omaha, NE, price during that time.

  • Cattle feeders in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota have more access to co-product feeds from nearby ethanol-production facilities.

“The extent to which these geographic shifts in cattle numbers will continue or become permanent isn't yet known,” Mark says.