After multiple weeks of huge losses, feedlot margins were mostly steady last week. Unfortunately, margins were mostly steady at more than $150 losses per head. Last week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, feedlot margins averaged $153.21. According to Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State University agricultural economist, feedlots are forecast to see a lot of red ink in 2015, with losses peaking later this spring and improving throughout the summer months.

Fed cattle rallied to top $161 per hundredweight last week, up from $158.67 the previous week. Feeder calves were also higher the first week of March. After falling below $200 to close February, 750 to 800 pound feeder steers averaged $204.32, according to Sterling Marketing Inc. Last week’s breakeven for marketings was $173.13 per hundredweight, and the projected breakeven for placements was $155.35 per hundredweight.

Packer margins reached $3.94 per head last week, up from negative $16.75 the previous week. Last year at this time, packers were earning, on average, $8.22 per head. The beef cutout value improved to $248.33 per hundredweight last week, up more than $3.

Farrow-to-finish margins dropped last week, falling to negative 76 cents per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs also decreased last week, falling to $66.87 per hundredweight, compared to $67.10 the previous week.

Pork packer margins dropped last week, averaging negative $6.39 per head compared to negative $4.96 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $69.15 per hundredweight, down from $70.14 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending March 7:

  • Average feeder margins: -$153.21 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: $3.94 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending March 6:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$0.76 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$6.39 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.