Whether you’re cattle feeder or packer, ledger sheets are full of red ink. Cash cattle prices dipped nearly $2 per cwt. last week, increasing feedyard losses $28 per head, leaving average per head losses at more than $105. Last week’s 5-area direct cash price for fed steers was $159.04, well below the average breakeven price of $167.12, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. A year ago cattle feeders were earning $253 on every animal sold.
Boxed cutout prices trended nearly $1 per cwt. higher to $238.67, but packer margins only improved $3 per head, leaving losses at $95 on every animal processed.
Farrow-to-finish pork margins declined $6 per head, dropping closeouts to $7.68 in the red. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
The cost of feeder cattle factored against last week’s live cattle sales was relatively unchanged from the previous week. Feeder cattle represent more than 80% of the total cost for finishing a steer, up significantly from last year when feeder cattle represented 73% of that total cost.
A month ago beef packers were earning $48 on every animal processed, while a year ago packers were losing $82, Sterling Marketing estimates. Pork packers saw their margins improve $1 per head, with profits now at $16 per head.
Cash prices for fed cattle are $13 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $33 per cwt. lower than last year.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $579 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $548 per cow.