Higher cattle prices and lower feed costs have translated into tidy profits for cattle feeders. Last week on average, cattle shipped from feedyards earned $209.54 per head, according to John Nalivka, president of Sterling Marketing, Inc., Vale Ore. Nalivka tracks prices and feeding costs for both cattle and hogs in a weekly summary called the Sterling Profit Tracker.
Feedyard margins received a boost from a $1.59 per cwt. increase in cash fed cattle prices last week to an average of $142.33. Lean hog prices gained $2.43 per cwt. to average $86.67.
Cattle feeding margins increased more than $64 per head last week from a previous average profit of $145.47. The Sterling Profit Tracker also found an increase in farrow-to-finish hog margins, with average profits at $22.41 per head. The previous week’s profits were pegged at $18.30.
While livestock feeders are enjoying a profitable stretch in early 2014, packers have seen margins that are rather ugly, especially on the beef side. The Sterling Profit Tracker estimated packers lost an average of $83.20 on every steer and heifer slaughtered last week, which is more than $26 per head worse than the previous week’s average losses of $56.86 per head. Pork packer margins were in the black last week at $8.23 per head.
Feeding margins for both cattle and hogs are substantially better than the same week one year ago. Last year cattle feeders lost an average of $131.14 per head, which hog feeders lost an average of $17.70 per head.