Cattle feeding margins improved $12 last week climbing to $144 per head during the Thanksgiving week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Cash cattle prices averaged $171 to $172, but profit margins are now hampered by the higher cost of feeder cattle for cattle placed in June against last week’s marketings. Feeder cattle represent about 77% of the total cost of finishing a steer. Last year feeder cattle represented about 65% of the cost. Farrow-to-finish pork margins improved slightly to $41 per head last week. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
Beef packers saw their margins improve $5 per head, though losses remain at $78 per head, Sterling Marketing estimates. Those losses are $48 per head more than last year’s average losses of $30 per head. The beef cutout was up $2 per cwt. at $253.69.
Pork packers saw their margins slip more than $2 per head, with profits now just over $2 per head.
Cash prices for fed cattle are $39 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $6 per cwt. higher than last year.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $556 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $243 per cow.