KANSAS CITY (B)--Cattle feeders should see black ink on the balance sheets for the next several months and profits probably will exceed those realized in September and October, said Rodney Jones, Kansas State University Research and Extension economist.

Estimated average profits of about $60.66 per head were realized on September-finished steers in Kansas, Jones said. Though the final numbers are not in, even larger profits were likely realized on October closeouts. He said current projections suggest average profits of about $80 per head on cattle finished over the next few months, with break-even levels in

the low $60s.

Breakevens needed to cover all costs will increase into the mid-to-upper $60s by early 2000 as higher-priced feeder cattle begin to finish. The expected breakevens for current placements of cattle expected to finish in about April are in the $67.60 to $68.60 per cwt range for steers and heifers.

From a performance standpoint, November has historically been a poor month to place cattle on feed in Kansas, Jones said. Because of weather extremes, steers can be expected to convert feed at about 9% worse than the annual average, and average daily gains are expected to be almost 8% worse than average.

At this time of year, producers often consider calf backgrounding, or steers and $85 for 550-pound heifers, the projected break-even price on calves expected to finish in about June 2000 is in the $66.25 to $67.25 range, Jones added. Feed costs are historically low and the cost of gain for calf feeding programs started in November is projected at about $40.50 per cwt for steer calves and $42.50 for heifer calves.

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