Dr. Elliot Dennis, an assistant professor of Livestock Marketing and Risk Management at the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics, reports Nebraska feedlots have moved away from feeding lower weight cattle and towards feeding heavier cattle (800+ pounds) since 1996.

Dennis’ findings were highlighted in an article in the October Edition of Nebraska Cattleman, the monthly magazine of the Nebraska Cattlemen. Dr. Dennis examined monthly data from USDA Cattle on Feed reports for Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas looking at feed placements and weight classes. His goals were to show how state-level cattle placements have changed, how placements have changed in Nebraska, and to compare placement decisions between Nebraska and Texas.

Dennis found that Nebraska is the only state among the four where total feedlot placements have increased since 1996 (Figure 1). Monthly placements in Nebraska increased from 350,000 head in 1996 to 450,000 head in 2019. At the same time, Nebraska placements have steadily shifted towards cattle weighing greater than 800 pounds. Feeder cattle placements weighing more than 800 pounds increased from 125,000 head in 2000 to 250,000 head per month in 2019. In contrast, placements of cattle weighing less than 800 pounds in Nebraska have trended down over the same period. Finally, Dennis found the gap between cattle placed in Nebraska verses Texas has narrowed across time across all weights.

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Source: Nebraska Feedlots Place Heavier Cattle to Narrow Cattle Feeding Gap with Texas, Elliot J. Dennis, Ph.D., Nebraska Cattleman, October 2019, Volume 75, Issue 8.