Higher prices for both finished and feeder cattle the week ending January 10 pushed feedlot margins more than $43 per head higher to $51.49, according to the latest Sterling Profit Tracker data. While last week’s feedlot profits were more than $84 per head better than a month ago at this time, they are more than $70 less than they were at this time last year.

The 5-Area direct price experienced strong gains last week, improving nearly $4 per hundredweight and flirted once again with the $170 mark hit in November 2014. Last week’s fed average of $169.62 per hundredweight was nearly $8 higher than a month ago ($161.85 per hundredweight in early December) and nearly $30 higher than a year ago. Feeders weighing between 750 and 800 pounds also had a solid week, increasing $10 per hundredweight to $232.72. This is almost back to price levels experienced a month ago and nearly $63 per hundredweight higher than last year’s placements. John Nalivka with Sterling Marketing, Inc., estimates last week’s breakeven price to be $173.95 per hundredweight.

Beef packer margins were down last week, falling to negative $57.25 per hundredweight from negative $50 the previous week. While an improvement compared to early December, beef packer margins were $13 higher in early January 2014. The beef cutout value improved more than $5 last week to $250.69 per hundredweight.

Farrow-to-finish margins dropped again last week, falling to $6.38 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Last month at this time, margins were negative $34.78 per head. But last year in early January, farrow-to-finish margins were negative $7.22.

Lean hogs declined nearly $2 to $75.52. This is $10 less than last month and nearly $5 less than last year at this time. Feed costs were down less than $1 to $79.74.

Pork packer margins decreased last week, averaging $6.42 per head compared to $9.77 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $83.22 per hundredweight, compared to $85.33 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending January 10:

  • Average feeder margins: $51.49 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$57.25 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending January 9:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $6.38 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $6.42 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.