Feedyard margins declined $28 per head last week to total an average loss of $70 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. It was a week that saw cash fed cattle prices dip $3.79 per cwt, a decline that was softened by a corresponding decline of about $22 per head for the cost of feeder cattle calculated against those closeouts.
Cash prices traded at $102.78, about $7 per cwt lower than a month ago. The total cost of finishing cattle last week was $1,501, compared to $1,525 the previous week and $2,119 last year, according to Sterling Marketing.
Beef packer margins increased $60 per head to $180. Packers earned an average of $98 per head during the same period a year ago.
A month ago cattle feeders were losing $120 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $480 per head. Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.
Farrow-to-finish pork producers lost $36 per hog last week, about $9 per head more than the week before. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers lost about $4 per head.
Pork packers saw their margins slip $1 per head to a total of $39, compared to $40 profits the week before. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $51.75 per cwt. last week, a decline of $2.58 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $15 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $21 per cwt. lower.
Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $173 per cow this year. In 2017, Nalivka projects cow-calf profits of $82. Last year’s estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.