Last week’s $4 to $5 rally in fed cattle prices bumped feedyard margins $55 to more than $302 per head. It represents the 14th consecutive week of feedyard profitability, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Cattle feeding margins are $322 better than a year ago when $20 per head losses were recorded.
Cash cattle prices averaged $124.44, nearly $5 higher than the previous week. The total cost of finishing a steer was $1,429, which was $10 higher than the week before, but $12 less than a month ago. A year ago the total cost of finishing a steer was $1,918, or $489 higher.
Packer margins climbed out of the red to register $19 per head profits, $24 better than the previous week. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
A month ago cattle feeders were earning $245 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $20 per head. Feeder cattle represent 75% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers earned $34 per hog last week, an $5 decline from the previous week. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers showed a profit of about $16 per head.
Pork packers saw their margins decline $2 per head to $10. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $74.08 per cwt. last week, about $1.75 per cwt. lower. 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.