March has been a profitable month for both cattle and hog producers, and rising beef and pork prices have helped packers record positive margins the past couple of weeks.
Cattle feeders recorded average profits of $246 per head last week, an increase of $13 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. The margins are $40 per head better than the same week last month, and $317 per head better than the $71 per head losses recorded last year, according to estimates developed by John Nalivka, president of Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
Beef cutout values jumped $7 per cwt. last week which helped beef packer margins improve to $77 per head. A month ago packers were losing $83 on every animal processed, and losses totaled $18 per head at the same time last year.
Farrow-to-finish hog margins increased $18.19 per head to more than $84 per head, the highest pork profit margins in the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker database. Negotiated cash hog prices rallied $8.19 per cwt. to $114 per cwt. Pork packer margins were estimated at $5.96 per head.
The spike in both cattle feeding and farrow-to-finish profits is due to significantly higher cash prices and lower overall feed prices. Cash prices for fed cattle are more than $24 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are nearly $40 per cwt. higher than last year.