After topping $51 in early January, feedlot margins came crashing down the week ending January 17, according to the latest Sterling Profit Tracker data. Feedlots lost $3 per head last week, compared to earning more than $51 the previous week and more than $135 at this time last year.

The 5-Area direct price was also much lower last week. Earlier in the month, fed prices inched close to $170 per hundredweight, but have since fallen to $162.85. While fed prices dropped nearly $7 last week, they are still $20 per hundredweight higher than they were last January. Feeders weighing between 750 and 800 pounds fell to $227.15, a $5 drop from the previous week. Similar to fed prices though, feeders are still more than $60 higher than 2014. Last week’s breakeven for placements was estimated at $169.88 per hundredweight, according to John Nalivka.

One bright spot in the cattle marketplace last week were packer margins, which finally climbed into positive territory. Packers earned $15.10 per head last week, compared to losing $57 per head the previous week. The beef cutout value improved to $259.32 per hundredweight last week, up nearly $9 from the previous week.

Farrow-to-finish margins dropped again last week, falling to $1.34 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Last month at this time, margins were $13.17 per head. But last year in the middle of January, farrow-to-finish margins were negative $4.74.

Lean hogs declined nearly $2 to $73.66. This is around $7 lower than both one month ago and last year at this time. Feed costs were down nearly $5 to $74.77.

Pork packer margins increased last week, averaging $12.18 per head compared to $6.66 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $83.94 per hundredweight, compared to $83.22 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending January 17:

  • Average feeder margins: -$3.04 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: $15.10 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending January 16:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $1.34 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $12.18 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.