Cattle feeding margins increased $50 per head last week as cash cattle prices improved $5 per cwt., according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. The increase in margins was the second consecutive weekly gain, leaving average profits above $220 per head. A year ago feedyards were losing nearly $40 per head. Farrow to finish pork margins improved $5 per head to $33. Both beef and pork profit margins are calculated by John Nalivka, president, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
Feed costs continue to decline for livestock feeders, and both cattle and pork margins are significantly higher than a year ago. The estimated cost of feed to finish a steer in a feedlot is more than $100 less than it was last year at this time.
Beef packer margins declined $50 per head last week as they paid more for cattle and saw wholesale beef prices decline nearly $1 per cwt. Beef packer profits totaled $30 per head last week, significantly higher than $22 per head profits they earned last year. Pork packers saw a $5 per head decline in profit margins to $4.9 per head. Cash prices for fed cattle are nearly $38 per cwt. higher than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $6 per cwt. higher than last year.