Cattle feeding margins declined $52 per head last week despite steady cash prices. Cattle feeders saw profits slip to an average of $175 per head after topping $227 per head the week before, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Shrinking profits were due to higher procurement prices paid for feeder cattle. A year ago cattle feeding margins sat at $88 per head. Farrow to finish pork margins slipped $8 per head to slightly more than $55 per head. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by John Nalivka, president, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
Beef packers also saw declining margins last week, with average per head losses at $44, compared with losses of $41 per head the week before. Last year at this time packers were losing $66 per head. The boxed beef cutout improved more than $3 per hundredweight last week to $245.87 per cwt. Cash fed cattle prices were quoted at $164.
Pork packers saw their margins slip more than $4 per head, but profits remain more than $18 per head. They were losing about $3 per head last year.
Cash prices for fed cattle are nearly $35 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $12 per cwt. higher than last year.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $527 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $243 per cow.