Cattle feeding margins declined nearly $63 per head last week on sharply lower cash cattle sales, leaving feedyards staring at average losses of nearly $66 per head. Cattle feeding margins have declined $118 per head over the last two weeks, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Live cattle sales averaged nearly $4 per cwt. lower for the week at $159.67. A month ago feeders were earning an average of $23 per head, while a year ago profits totaled $182 per head.
Lower fed cattle prices helped boost beef packer profits to $52 per head, despite a $4 per cwt. decline in the boxed cutout price that averaged $255.20 per cwt.
Farrow-to-finish pork margins fell $2 per head last week, closing with a per head losses of $1 per head. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
The cost of feeder cattle factored against last week’s live cattle sales was $3 per cwt. higher, while average total feed costs were unchanged. Feeder cattle represent nearly 80% of the total cost for finishing a steer, up significantly from last year when feeder cattle represented 69% of that total cost.
A month ago beef packers were losing an average of $45 on every animal processed, while a year ago packers were seeing profits of $122 per head, Sterling Marketing estimates. Pork packers saw their margins improve about $6 per head, with profits now at $18 per head.
Cash prices for fed cattle are $11 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $10 per cwt. lower than last year.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $688 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $548 per cow.