There was nothing rosy or sweet on February 14 for cattle feeders and packers, according to the latest data from the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. In fact, cattle feeders lost, on average, $77.03 per head last week. Feedlot margins fell nearly $45 from the previous week and are almost $284 lower than last year at this time when feedlots were earning more than $209 per head.

The 5-Area direct price for live cattle was one positive spot in the marketplace last week, Sterling Marketing Inc., reports, with prices climbing to $161.74 from $160.62 the previous week. Feeder steers were down, however, falling to $204.81 per hundredweight, compared to $210.22 the previous week. This is more than $22 lower than feeders averaged 30 days ago but is still nearly $40 per hundredweight higher than last year at this time. Last week’s breakeven for placements was $156.02, down from $159.31 the previous week, according to John Nalivka.

Packers didn’t fare any better last week, losing $99 per head. The beef cutout value dropped $3 to $237.81 per hundredweight.

Farrow-to-finish margins fell more than $14 per head last week to negative $1.23, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Last month at this time, margins were $1.34 per head. Last year in the middle of February, farrow-to-finish margins were $22.41 per head.  

Lean hogs declined nearly to $60.40 per hundredweight. This is down about $13 from last month and about $26 from last year. Feed costs were steady at $76.22 last week.  

Pork packer margins improved last week, averaging $$15.52 per head compared to $11.41 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $72.65 per hundredweight, down from $75 the previous week.

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

  • Average feeder margins: -$77.03 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: -$99.02 per head.

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

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$1.23 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $15.52 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.