It was another ugly week for cattle feeders. Despite steady cash cattle prices, average losses jumped another $60 per head, leaving closeouts with $212 losses. Last week’s 5-area direct cash price for fed steers was $161.26, well below the average breakeven price of $177.60, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. A year ago cattle feeders were earning $246 on every animal sold.
Beef cutout prices trended $2 per cwt. lower to $246.33, and packer margins declined more than $37 per head, resulting in losses of $33 on every animal processed.
Farrow-to-finish pork margins slipped nearly $5 per head, producing losses of $5.54 per head. 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 up about $6 per head compared to the previous week. Feeder cattle represent more than 81% 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 losing $99 on every animal processed, while a year ago packers were making $74, Sterling Marketing estimates. Pork packers saw their margins improve $5 per head, with losses now at $1.83 per head. Cash prices for fed cattle are $10 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $50 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.