Kansas cattle prices on the swing

Hannah Brown
Pratt Tribune
Winter cattle prices are fluctuating in response to supply and demand with a trend toward helping the cattleman.

Mike Lewis of Pratt Livestock thinks that cattle prices are headed in a direction that will favor the producer. He said that recently, meat packing plants have been under fire due to the vast difference in profit margins for ranchers versus packers. 

“It was really bad for awhile. We were selling feeder cattle, 700-1000 pound steers, to the feed lots but we were losing money last summer,” said Lewis. “The packers were actually making, for a short time, they were netting $800 a head.”

Lewis said he believes there is a cycle for prices as the demand and number of cattle being sold fluctuate. He said he also understands that packers are doing their jobs to make money for their stockholders. 

Right now, there are two sale days per week at Pratt Livestock. From October through December the sale barn, located east of Pratt, has a sale on Thursday as well as another sale on either Monday or Saturday. Lewis said there are around 3,500 calves and feeder steers being sold each week at Pratt Livestock. There is a wide variety of cows that are sold each week and the market can be complex. 

Currently, steer calves that have been weaned and have been vaccinated are going for around $1.50 to $1.90 per pound. Heifer calves can be about 15 cents less than that. According to Lewis an 800 pound steer that is ready to go to the feedlot will sell for anywhere between $1.35 and $1.45. 

Lewis owned Pratt Livestock for around four decades before the Winter family bought the business six or seven years ago. Mike Lewis and his son Jake Lewis along with Roger Panek run the show at Pratt Livestock. Winter Livestock owns sale barns in Kansas, Pratt Livestock along with Dodge City. They also have sales in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. 

For more information on sale dates and special sales, visit their website at winterlivestock.com.