As prices for feeder calves and fed cattle pushed higher last week, margins in the packing and feeding sectors also improved compared to the previous week, according to the Sterling Profit Tracker.

Feedlot margins increased more than $27 per head the week ending October 11 to $227.50. While feedlot margins were similar at this time last month, they were just $89.08 per head at this time last year. Profits increased as cash prices increased nearly $4 per hundredweight to $163.96. At this time last year, fed cattle averaged $128.

Feeders were also higher last week, finishing the week at $243.58, a more than $81 per hundredweight advantage compared to feeder prices at this time last year. Cattle prices pushed higher in spite of higher feed costs, which were up more than $6 last week. The breakeven price for last week’s feedlot placements was calculated at $177.60 per hundredweight, up from $173.13 the previous week.

Packer margins improved nearly $20 per head (to negative $40.99) as the beef cutout improved nearly $7 to $243.34 per hundredweight. At this time last year, packers were losing nearly $65 per head.

Farrow-to-finish margins were mostly steady last week, increasing less than 70 cents to $63.75 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Last year at this time, margins were negative $0.21.

Lean hogs dipped slightly last week, finishing the week ending October 3 at $109.77, compared to 110.19. Similar to feed costs for cattle, feed costs were up for last week’s finishing placements to $65.   

Pork packer margins also improved, reaching $22.54 last week compared to $18.76 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $123.56 per hundredweight, compared to $122.13 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending October 11:

  • Average feeder margins: $227.50 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$40.99 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending October 10:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $63.75 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $22.54 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.