Cattle feeding margins slipped further into the red last week. A $3 decline in average cash fed cattle prices last week was mostly offset by a $35 decline in the cost of feeder cattle, leaving feedyard closeouts $59 short of breakeven, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. That’s $7 per head lower than the previous week. The total cost of finishing cattle last week was $1,655, compared to $1,690 the previous week and $2,149 last year.
Beef packer margins improved $19 per head to $124, according to calculations by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. Packers earned an average of $102 per head during the same period a year ago.
A month ago cattle feeders were losing $24 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $129 per head. Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 77% last year.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers lost $1.39 per hog last week, about $7 per head less than the week before, and $19 per head less than a month ago.
Pork packers saw their margins improve $6 per head to a total of $13, compared to $7 profits the week before. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $64.37 per cwt. last week, a decline of $1.50 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $30 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $12 per cwt. lower.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $175 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.