Cattle feeding margins dipped $15 per head for the week ended Feb. 3, yet maintain a lofty perch at a positive $230 per head. That’s fully $350 better than at this same time last year when red ink flowed to the tune of $120 per head.
Last week marked the 11th consecutive week of feedyard profitability, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. The decline in last week’s profits was the result of a $2 to $3 per cwt. decline in the cash fed cattle price to $118.85. The cost of finishing steers declined $18 per head.
Packer margins improved $27 per head, erasing losses from the previous week and leaving packers with positive $18 per head margins.
The total cost of finishing a steer last week was $1,423, compared with $1,441 the week before and $1,998 last year. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
A month ago cattle feeders were earning $155 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $119 per head. Feeder cattle represent 75% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 80% last year.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers earned $25 per hog last week, a $9 improvement. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers showed a profit of about $1 per head.
Pork packers saw their margins decline $2 per head to $23. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $69 per cwt. last week, about $3 per cwt. higher. Cash prices for fed cattle are $16 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are about $5 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 $43 per cow. Estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow in 2015.