Cattle feeding margins improved more than $13 per head last week on a $1 per hundredweight gain in cash cattle prices, leaving average losses at just over $42 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Margins have improved $98 over the past three weeks.

Beef packers saw their margins decline more than $5 per head on the week leaving losses at more than $64 per head. The Sterling Beef Profit Quotient improved 40 points for the week and the industry profitability index is now negative 143.8, according to estimates developed by Sterling Marketing, Inc., Vale, Ore. A month ago the Sterling Beef Profit Quotient was a negative 160.7.

Pork producer margins declined $7 per head last week, with margins now at a negative $40.38 per hog marketed. Negotiated cash hog prices declined $10.24 per hundredweight last week to $82.50. Pork packer margins declined $1.55 per head for the week, creating losses of $2.42 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker.

A year ago cattle feeders sold cash cattle at $121.92 per hundredweight, resulting in losses of $32.81 per head. Last year cash hogs fetched $80.46 per hundredweight, resulting in losses of $16.12 per head.

The Sterling Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated using actual weekly prices for both cattle and hogs, feed costs, beef and pork cutout prices, drop credits and other factors that influence profit margins.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending Dec. 29:

  • Average feedyard margins: -$42.18 per head.
  • Average packer margins: -$64.39 per head.
  • Sterling Profit Quotient: -140.8.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending Dec. 28:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$40.38 per head.  
  • Average pork packer margins: -$2.42 per head.

The Sterling Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are produced by Sterling Marketing Inc. and John Nalivka, president, Vale, Ore., and are published weekly by Drovers/CattleNetwork.