Feedyard profit margins jumped to $370 per head last week, a $68 per head increase. Those average margins were 38% higher than one month ago, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Last week was the 15th consecutive week of feedyard profitability.

Last week’s 5-area cash fed cattle price firmed up at $124.66, while the cost of finishing a steer declined $65 to $1,364 per head. A year ago the total cost of finishing a steer was $1,884, or $520 higher.

Packer margins also jumped higher at $72 per head, a $53 increase from the previous week. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

A month ago cattle feeders were earning $231 per head, while a year ago profits were calculated at $3 per head. Feeder cattle represent 74% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers earned $27 per hog last week, a $7 decline from the previous week. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers showed a profit of about $24 per head.

Pork packers saw their margins improve $4 per head to $14. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $70.47 per cwt. last week, about $3.60 per cwt. lower. Cash prices for fed cattle are $11 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 $177 per cow for 2016. In 2017, Nalivka projects cow-calf profits of $45 per cow. Estimated average cow-calf margins were $438 per cow in 2015.