After nearly a month of consecutive weekly improvements, feeder margins fell sharply last week. The week ending April 11, feedlots losses averaged nearly $175 per head, compared to $97 per head losses the previous week, according to the weekly Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Sterling Marketing Inc., updated its annual forecasts for feedlot margins in 2015. After a successful year in 2014 when margins averaged $191.45 per head, margins in 2015 are projected to average negative $85.12 per head.

Fed cattle prices were also lower last week, with the 5-area direct price falling to $163 per hundredweight, down $4.41 per hundredweight from the previous week. Feeder cattle were up slightly to $215.94 per hundredweight for 750 to 800 pound placements, compared to $215.79 the previous week. Breakeven prices for placements were down 35 cents to $162.45 per hundredweight. Against this week’s marketings, breakeven prices were up about $1.50 per hundredweight to $176.45.   

Packer margins improved $25 per head last week to negative $15.57 per head. Sterling Marketing Inc., is project packer margins to average $1.79 per head in 2015. The beef cutout value improved nearly $3 per hundredweight last week to $256.37, up from $253.57 the previous week.

Last year was a record year in the cow-calf sector and 2015 forecasts continue to show strong projections for profits in 2015 and 2016. According to Sterling Marketing Inc., cow-calf margins are projected to average $541 in 2015 and $447 in 2016.

Farrow-to-finish margins improved last week, reaching negative $14.47 per head, compared to negative $21.23 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs were also up, reaching $60.68 per hundredweight, compared to $58.57 the previous week.

Pork packer margins fell into negative territory last week, averaging negative 45 cents per head compared to $2.47 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $65.73 per hundredweight, up from $65.73 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 11:

  • Average feeder margins: -$174.80 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$15.57 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending April 10:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$14.47 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$0.45 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.