Profit Tracker: Losses Exceed $200

September 14, 2016 11:34 AM

With cash cattle prices tumbling another $4 per cwt lower, cattle feeding margins fell accordingly. Cash prices traded at $105 per cwt last week, $13 lower than a month ago. That left cattle feeders staring at per head losses of $202 per head, about $82 more than the previous week, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. The total cost of finishing cattle last week was $1,666, compared to $1,646 the previous week and $2,150 last year.

Beef packer margins increased $14 per head to $150, according to calculations by Sterling Marketing. Packers earned an average of $140 per head during the same period a year ago.

A month ago cattle feeders were losing $13 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $217 per head. Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers lost $7 per hog last week, about $3 per head more than the week before, and $15 per head more than a month ago.

Pork packers saw their margins improve $11 per head to a total of $29, compared to $18 profits the week before. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $61 per cwt. last week, a decline of $1 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $34 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $8 per cwt. lower.

Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $178 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow. 

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Spell Check

Marty Marx
Wayne, NE
9/28/2016 12:26 PM

  I disagree with your numbers. Cattle have lost money for the past year at least. There have been no $13 per head profit. They have lost closer to$400 per head. The packers, wholesalers, and retailers have reaped all profits at the cattle feeders expense. They need to be investigated for price gouging. They have refused to lower their prices all this time.


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