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Profit Tracker: Margins Back In The Black

17:36PM Dec 30, 2014

After two weeks of losses, cattle feeding margins are back in the black. Closeouts improved $47 per head last week, moving average feeding margins from a $25 loss to a $27 per head profit, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. A month ago feeders were earning $144 profits per head, and a year ago profits were $57 per head.

Average cash cattle prices improved $3 per cwt. last week, with the 5-area Direct price at $161.82. The cost of feeder cattle factored into last week’s Profit Tracker was unchanged, while feed costs declined modestly. Feeder cattle represent 79% of the total cost for finishing a steer. A year ago feeder cattle represented 67% of that total cost.

Farrow-to-finish pork margins fell nearly $13 per head last week, closing with a per head profit of $13. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

Beef packers saw their margins improve $14 per head, though losses remain at $14 per head, Sterling Marketing estimates. Those losses are $13 per head less than last year’s average losses of $59 per head. The beef cutout was up slightly at $240.33 per cwt.

Pork packers saw their margins improve about $4 per head, with profits now over $14 per head.

Cash prices for fed cattle are $28 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are 50 cents per cwt. lower than last year.

Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $556 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $243 per cow.