Losses increased $65 per head for cattle feeders last week, pushing the total to $116, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Five-area Choice steer prices slipped to $103.78, down slightly from $104.44 the previous week. Last week’s closeouts also reflected at $55 increase in the cost of feeder cattle calculated in those closeouts, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
The total cost of finishing a steer last week was $1,561, compared to $1,501 the previous week and $2,226 last year.
Beef packer margins decreased $6 per head to $172. Packers earned an average of $52 per head during the same period a year ago.
A month ago cattle feeders were losing $248 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $438 per head. Feeder cattle represent 72% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 79% last year.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers lost $34.75 per hog last week, about $1 less than the week before. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers lost about $39 per head.
Pork packers saw their margins improve $6 per head at $53 per head. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $44 per cwt. last week, about $2 per cwt. lower. Cash prices for fed cattle are $25 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $10 per cwt. lower.
Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $144 per cow this year. In 2017, Nalivka projects cow-calf losses of $24. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.