Cattle feeders and beef packers are hoping the price lows are in for the summer as both operated at a loss last week. Cattle feeding margins showed a slight improvement, yet per head losses remained more than $105. Packer margins declined nearly $50 per head, leaving packers with a $16 loss on every animal processed, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
Choice steer prices declined $3 per cwt. last week to close at $147.89 per cwt. Feedyard closeouts were aided, however, by a $5 per cwt. decline in the price of feeder steers measured against last week’s marketings. Packer margins were hit hard by a $7.26 per cwt. decline in the beef cutout price.
While triple-digit feeding losses are common, feedyard margins are improved $150 per head from a month ago, chiefly due to the $23 per cwt. lower feeder cattle prices on last month’s closeouts. Feeder cattle represent 78 % of the cost of finishing a steer, still significantly higher than last year’s 73%. A year ago feedyards were showing a profit of $280 per head.
A month ago beef packers were earning $86 on every animal processed, while a year ago packers were earning $68, Sterling Marketing estimates.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers showed a profit margin of $23 per hog last week, $2 per head lower than the previous week and a month ago.
Pork packers saw their margins improve $3 per head from a $7 loss to a $4 loss per head. Pork packer margins hovered near the breakeven mark for several weeks before a $7 decline two weeks ago. Negotiated prices for lean hogs was $78.84 per cwt. last week, down slightly from $79.63 the previous week.
Cash prices for fed cattle are $8 per cwt. lower than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $53 per cwt. lower than last year.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $658 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $548 per cow.