Compared to recent weeks, markets were relatively steady last week, resulting in less volatile swings in margins for cattle feeders. Feeding margins dropped $6, according to the latest Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Unfortunately, that’s on top of the previous week’s $112 per head losses, bringing cattle feeding losses to nearly $118.50 per head the week ending May 30.

Fed cattle were down 25 cents last week to $159.30 per hundredweight, almost $1.50 per hundredweight lower than this time last month. Feeder cattle were also lower, with 750 to 800 pound placements averaging $217, compared to $218.33 per hundredweight the previous week. Breakeven prices for placements dropped more than $1 per hundredweight to $161.92. Against marketings, breakeven prices averaged $168.41, up 20 cents from the previous week, according to John Nalivka.

Packer margins dropped $20 per head to $67.12 the last week of May. While margins dropped week-over-week, packers are still earning more than $22 more per head than they were last month at this time. The beef cutout value was down $4 to $256.73, compared to $260.47 per hundredweight the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins were slight higher last week, reaching $31.51 per head profits, compared to $31.23 per head the previous week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs were also higher, averaging $81.94 per hundredweight, compared to $81.69 the previous week.

Pork packer margins declined last week, with losses averaging $2.29 per head compared to 42 cents per head losses the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $86.35 per hundredweight, compared to $86.94 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending May 30:

  • Average feeder margins: -$118.47 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $67.12 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending May 29:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $31.51 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$2.29 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.