What goes up, must come down. That was the case for feedlot margins last week. After increasing for three consecutive weeks, feedlot margins finished the week ending Sept. 20 at $186.37 per head, down more than $45 from the previous week, according to the latest data from the Sterling Profit Tracker. While lower week-over-week, feedlot margins are more than $143 higher per head than they were last year at this time.

Fed cattle also took a turn south last week, ending at $157.57, compared to $160.47 per hundredweight the previous week. Fed cattle, despite being down last week, are still enjoying a more than $33 per hundredweight advantage compared to prices earned last year at this time. Though feeders were also down last week, they took less of a hit, falling just 31 cents to $226.88 per hundredweight. At this time last year, feeders were bringing $156.38. The breakeven price for last week’s feedlot placements was $167.12, compared to $127.08 at this time last year.

Volatility continued with packer margins last week, falling from $12.50 per head to negative $11.09 last week. Last month at this time, packers were earning more than $120 per head. The beef cutout value was nearly $5 lower last week at $242.75 per hundredweight.

Unlike cattle markets, which finished lower on the week, farrow-to-finish margins increased last week to $54.12 per head compared to $47.75 per head the previous week, according to the latest Sterling Profit Tracker data. Last month, margins were $40.32 per head, and last year they were $13.51.  

Lean hogs were up again last week, finishing the week ending September 19 at $106.46 per hundredweight, compared to $103.81 the previous week. Last month, lean hogs were bringing $99.72 and last year at this time they were earning $97.14.

Pork packer margins climbed out of the red last week, increasing to $4.48 per head, compared to negative $1.95 the previous week. Last month, pork packers were earning nearly $11 per head. The pork cutout value increased again last week, to $111.49, compared to $105.81 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending August September 20:

  • Average feeder margins: $186.37 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$11.09 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending September 19:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $54.12 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $4.48 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.