Losses in the feeding sector continued to slide last week, falling an additional $59, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feeders lost, on average, $212 per head last week, and according to K-State’s Glynn Tonsor, 2015 is projected to be a challenging year overall for feeders for multiple reasons but one is that the price for fed cattle is too low compared to the cost for feeder cattle placements and other input costs.

Fed cattle were mostly steady, falling just 8 cents per hundredweight to $161.26 last week. The 2014 rally was underway at this time last year, as fed cattle averaged more than $151 per hundredweight. Feeder steers weighing between 750 and 800 pounds were $6 higher last week, topping $210 per hundredweight, according to Sterling Marketing, Inc., Last week’s breakeven for placements was $158.78 per hundredweight and for marketings it stood at $177.60.

After a brief stay in the black, packer margins also fell last week. Packer losses averaged $33.77 per head, down from profits of $4.14 the previous week. The beef cutout value was down $2 to $246.33 per hundredweight.

Farrow-to-finish margins dropped last week, falling to negative $5.54 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Lean hogs were down again, falling to $63.85 per hundredweight, compared to $66.87 the previous week.

Pork packer margins improved last week, averaging negative $1.83 per head compared to negative $6.39 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $68.31 per hundredweight, down from $69.15 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending March 14:

  • Average feeder margins: -$212.47 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$33.77 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending March 13:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$5.54 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$1.83 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.