Cattle feeding margins held steady at a robust $245 per head last week. It was the 13th consecutive week of feedyard profitability, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feedyard margins are $324 better than a year ago when $81 losses were recorded.
Cash cattle prices averaged $119.65, nearly identical to the previous week. The total cost of finishing a steer was $1,419, the same as the week before, but $106 less than a month ago. A year ago the total cost of finishing a steer was $1,944.
Packer margins slipped in the red at a negative $4.77, a $10 decline from last week’s meager $5.62 profit. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
A month ago cattle feeders were earning $171 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $81 per head. Feeder cattle represent 75% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 79% last year.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers earned $39 per hog last week, an $8 improvement. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers showed a profit of about $16 per head.
Pork packers saw their margins decline $6 per head to $11. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $75.83 per cwt. last week, about $2.50 per cwt. higher. Cash prices for fed cattle are $15 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are about $10 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.