After more than a month in the red, feedlot margins continued to struggle the week ending February 21, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feedlots lost $105 per head last week – a nearly $359 swing since last year at this time when feedlots were earning nearly $254 per head.

Fed cattle were also lower on the week, with the 5-Area direct price for live cattle falling to $159.04 per hundredweight last week, compared to $161.74 the previous week. While down from the high point of more than $170, fed cattle are still nearly $13 per hundredweight higher than last year at this time. Feeder steers weighing between 750 and 800 pounds were up last week, reaching $207.35 compared to $204.81 the previous week. Last week’s breakeven for placements was $157.51 per hundredweight, up from $156 the previous week, according to John Nalivka.

Packer margins improved slightly but are still in the red. Packer losses averaged $95.69 per head last week, compared to $98.60 in the middle of February. The beef cutout value was higher last week, reaching $238.67 per hundredweight, compared to $237.81 the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins were down again last week, falling to negative $7.68 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. One year ago, margins were $35.02 per head. Lean hogs were down less than $1 to $59.62 per hundredweight. This is nearly $33 per hundredweight lower than last year at this time. Feed costs were 30 cents higher at $76.51.

Pork packer margins improved last week, averaging $16.07 per head compared to $15.35 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $72.21 per hundredweight, down from $72.65 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending February 21:

  • Average feeder margins: -$105.09 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$95.69 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending February 20:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$7.68 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $16.07 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.