Farrow-to-finish margins were down again last week, dropping to $9.66 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Last year at this time, margins were negative $19.74 per head.

Lean hogs increased slightly to $77.40 per hundredweight the week ending January2. Last month, lean hogs averaged $87.97 and last year at this time they were $79.68. Feed costs were down for hogs, falling to $80.47 per head.

Pork packer margins decreased last week, averaging $11.55 per head compared to $14.71 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $85.33 per hundredweight, compared to $87.37 the previous week.

After a $47 climb out of the red the final week of December and reaching nearly $22 per head, feedlot margins fell the week ending January 3 to $8.28 per head, according to the latest Sterling Profit Tracker data. Early in December margins were just shy of $45 per head, and early in January 2013, feedlot margins were nearly $80 per head.

While feedlot margins were down, the 5-Area direct price continued improving after falling through most of December. Last week, fed cattle prices reached $165.63 per hundredweight, up from $161.82 the previous week and $27.55 per hundredweight more than they were at this time last year. Feeder cattle were steady last week but started 2015 nearly $60 per hundredweight higher than they were at the beginning of 2014. The breakeven for last week’s feedlot placements decreased to $167.53 from $168.41 the previous week, according to John Nalivka with Sterling Marketing, Inc.

Beef packer margins declined last week, falling to negative $49.96 per head, compared to negative $45 the previous week. The beef cutout value climbed nearly $5 per hundredweight last week to $245.23.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending January 3:

  • Average feeder margins: $8.28 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$49.96 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending January 2:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $9.65 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $11.55 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.