Cattle feeders turned a tidy profit last week despite a $2 retreat in cash cattle prices. It was the second week closeouts were in the black after more than 17 consecutive months of losses, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.
Feedyard profits were $226 per head, $75 better than the previous week as the cost of feeder cattle factored into those closeouts continued to decline. Average feeder cattle prices against last week’s marketings were $147 per cwt., roughly $13 per cwt. or $100 per head below the previous week. USDA’s 5-area cash price was $130.83 per cwt. And the breakeven price was calculated as $114.51, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.
The total cost of finishing cattle last week was $1,594, compared to $1,702 the previous week and $2,227 last year.
Beef packer margins increased $78 per head, resulting in average profits of $126 on every animal processed. Packer margins are about $18 per head better than last month.
A month ago cattle feeders were losing $45 per head, while a year ago losses were pegged at $10 per head, according to Sterling Marketing. Feeder cattle represent 72% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.
A month ago beef packers were earning $108 for every animal processed, while a year ago packers were earning $87, Sterling Marketing estimates.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers earned $26 per hog last week, roughly $8 per hog better than the previous week, and much better than the $3 per head profits found a month ago.
Pork packers saw their margins decline $5 per head to a profit of $7 per head. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $73.83 per cwt. last week, an increase of $2.99 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $29 per cwt. lower than last year, and negotiated hog prices are $5 per cwt. lower than last year.
Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $177 per cow this year. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.