Cattle feeding margins increased $15 per head for the week ended Feb. 10, maintaining their perch above $245 per head. That’s $420 better than at this same time last year when red ink flowed to the tune of $176 per head.

Last week marked the 12th consecutive week of feedyard profitability, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. The modest improvement last week’s profits was the result of a $1 per cwt. gain in the cash fed cattle price to $119.64, and $3 per head decline in the cost of finishing steers.

Packer margins declined $13 per head, leaving their margins positive at slightly more than $5 per head.

The total cost of finishing a steer last week was $1,420, compared with $1,423 the week before and $2,015 last year. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

A month ago cattle feeders were earning $117 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $176 per head. Feeder cattle represent 75% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 80% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers earned $31 per hog last week, a $6 improvement. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers showed a profit of about $10 per head.

Pork packers saw their margins decline $6 per head to $17. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $73.25 per cwt. last week, about $4 per cwt. higher. Cash prices for fed cattle are $12 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are about $8 higher than last year.

Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $144 per cow for 2016. In 2017, Nalivka projects cow-calf profits of $45 per cow. Estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow in 2015.