Despite last week’s cattle market rally, cattle feeding margins improved only marginally, with average losses in excess of $105 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Beef packers saw their margins decline nearly $20 per head, leaving losses at $36 per head. The Sterling Beef Profit Quotient improved 29 points for the week and the industry profitability index is now negative 326.8, according to estimates developed by Sterling Marketing Inc. Vale, Ore.

Pork producer margins improved modestly, with margins at a negative $33 per hog marketed, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Negotiated cash hog prices improved $2.36 per hundredweight last week to $76.60. Pork packer margins declined $6.15 per head for the week, leaving profits at $0.21 per head.

A year ago cattle feeders sold cash cattle at $124.69 per hundredweight, resulting in losses of $3.55 per head. Last year cash hogs fetched $82.92 per hundredweight, resulting in profits of $12.12 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 Mar. 30:

  • Average feedyard margins: -$105.29 per head.
  • Average packer margins: -$35.91 per head.
  • Sterling Profit Quotient: -326.8.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending Mar. 29:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$33.09 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins:  $0.21 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, and PorkNetwork.