Cash cattle prices rallied $5 per cwt. last week, erasing a lot (but not all) of the red ink on feedyard closeouts. Cattle feeders lost an average of $50 per head last week, not great, but $143 per head less than the previous week, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Five-area Choice steers averaged $104.48, up from $99.30 per cwt. the previous week, and about $7 better than two weeks ago. Last week’s closeouts also reflected at $10 decrease in the cost of feeder cattle calculated in those closeouts, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

The total cost of finishing a steer last week was $1,505, compared to $1,576 the previous week and $2,150 last year.

Beef packer margins decreased $22 per head to $180. Packers earned an average of $10 per head during the same period a year ago.

A month ago cattle feeders were losing $70 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $241 per head. Feeder cattle represent 72% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers lost $41 per hog last week, about $4 less than the week before. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers lost about $36 per head.

Pork packers saw their margins improve $2 per head at $42 per head. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $47 per cwt. last week, about $2 per cwt. lower. Cash prices for fed cattle are $33 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $22 per cwt. lower.

Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $154 per cow this year. In 2017, Nalivka projects cow-calf profits of $21. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.

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