Steady cash fed cattle prices at $167 per cwt. last week left cattle feeding margins at a tidy $209 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feeding profits are down about $20 per head from a month ago, but $177 per head higher than the same week a year ago. Farrow to finish pork margins improved nearly $2 per head to slightly more than $29 per head. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by John Nalivka, president, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
Beef packers saw modest improvement to their long-running negative margins. Sterling Marketing estimates that beef packer margins improved $8 per head last week, leaving average losses at $75 per animal processed. Those losses are nearly double what they were a month ago and $45 more than last year’s average losses of $30 per head. The beef cutout declined about $1 per cwt. last week to $247.36.
Pork packers saw their margins slip nearly $4 per head, with profits now just under $10 per head.
Cash prices for fed cattle are nearly $36 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $5 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.