With cash cattle prices tumbling another $4 per cwt lower, cattle feeding margins fell accordingly. Cash prices traded at $105 per cwt last week, $13 lower than a month ago. That left cattle feeders staring at per head losses of $202 per head, about $82 more than the previous week, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. The total cost of finishing cattle last week was $1,666, compared to $1,646 the previous week and $2,150 last year.

Beef packer margins increased $14 per head to $150, according to calculations by Sterling Marketing. Packers earned an average of $140 per head during the same period a year ago.

A month ago cattle feeders were losing $13 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $217 per head. Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers lost $7 per hog last week, about $3 per head more than the week before, and $15 per head more than a month ago.

Pork packers saw their margins improve $11 per head to a total of $29, compared to $18 profits the week before. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $61 per cwt. last week, a decline of $1 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $34 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $8 per cwt. lower.

Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $178 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow. 

Cattle Feed Lots Back in Red

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