Cattle feedyards fill up, forcing farmers to keep calves

Understand how to calculate the cost and value of gains for your calf crop.


Mindy Ward, NebraskaFarmer

Nov 19, 2020


Essentially, there's a sign that says “no vacancy” at feedlots across the country, says Wesley Tucker, University of Missouri Extension ag business specialist.


Tucker, who tracks livestock trends for Missouri farmers, says that in recent months feedlots have seen higher placements of cattle, the same cattle that would have normally shown up in the spring but were turned out to grass instead. The larger numbers continue to back up the supply chain all the way to the farm gate.


“With more placements and higher feed costs, feedlots are not anxious to bring new calves in,” Tucker explains. “Then the backgrounding yards that normally would be buying high-risk cattle, they don't have as much room either.”


He says that although the cattle market looks better in 2021, it may be the second half of the year before we see significant improvement. Space in the feedyard will be at a premium as well.


“This goes all the way back to the direct impacts of COVID-19 this spring,” Tucker says. But cattle producers can manage their herd for the future if they understand two things — the value and cost of gain.


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