After multiple weeks above $200 per head, feedlot margins fell last week to $132.28, according to the Sterling Profit Tracker. Last year at this time, feedlot margins were just $45 per head. Cash prices, however, continued climbing and reached $171.39 the week ending November 22, a nearly 25 percent increase from last year at this time.

The strong market in 2014 has proven especially profitable for cow-calf producers. Sterling Marketing, Inc., is projecting cow-calf margins to be $556 per cow in 2014 and $743 per cow in 2015.

Feeders were also up last week, climbing a little more than $1 per hundredweight to $237.28 for 750 to 800 pound steers. Again, compared to last year this represents a more than 30 percent increase in prices. After increasing nearly $9 the previous week, feed costs dropped back down to approximately $304. The breakeven was mostly steady last week at $175.50 per hundredweight, according to John Nalivka with Sterling Marketing, Inc.

Packer margins were steady at negative $83.74 last week. At this time last month, packers were losing $69 per head and $57 per head at this time last year. The beef cutout value increased last week to $251.57 per hundredweight, compared to $247.88 the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins were up again last week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Margins were nearly $40 per head, compared to $34 the previous week. Last year at this time, margins were negative $25.44.

Lean hogs were mostly steady last week at $88.59 per hundredweight the week of November 21. Last month, lean hogs averaged $38.68 and last year at this time they were negative $25.44. Feed costs were down for hogs as well, dropping to $76.78 per head.

Pork packer margins declined last week, averaging $4.15 per head last week compared to $7.58 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $93.88 per hundredweight, compared to $95.37 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending November 22:

  • Average feeder margins: $132.28 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$83.74 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending November 21:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $39.91 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $4.15 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.