Farrow-to-finish margins were down more than $3 per head to $72.59 the week of May 23, compared to $75.67 per head the previous week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Last year at this time, margins were negative $1.59 per head. Lean hogs were down again, and finished the week at $110.97 per hundredweight last week, compared to $111.19 per hundredweight the week of May 16.

Pork packer margins improved again last week to $1.85, compared to negative $2.56 the previous week. The pork cutout value was up last week to $115.03, compared to $113.16.

Feeder cattle pushed higher last week, and USDA analysts say the “runaway feeder market has yet to show any signs of stopping or even slowing down.” This week’s placements of 750-800 pound steers hit $192.68 per hundredweight, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. While feeders are up nearly $4 on the week and more than $11 compared to last month, feeders are bringing an additional $61.51 per hundredweight compared to this time last year. USDA analysts say that backgrounders who bought their cattle early are earning a “handsome profit” by selling 800 pound steers around $190.

While feeder steers keep pushing higher, fed cattle aren’t keeping pace as they were down almost $2 last week to $144.90 per hundredweight, compared to $146.76 the previous week. At this time last year, fed cattle were bringing just shy of $124. Feed costs were down more than $3 per head last week to $367.02 but total costs per head were up to $1,993.41, compared to $1,961.81 the previous week.

The downward trend of the past month in fed cattle prices and recent increase in feeder steers has left fed cattle unable to keep pace and cattle feeders risking another dip in the red due to competition for yearlings, USDA analysts say. With that in mind, feedlot margins were down $31.66 per head the week of May 24 to $157 per head. At this time last year, feedlots were losing $114.62 per head.

Packers climbed out of negative margin territory last week, with margins averaging $20.89 the week of May 24, compared to negative $26.51 the previous week. The beef cutout value was up $5 to $227.77 last week, compared to $222.76 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending May 24:

  • Average feeder margins: $157 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $20.89 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending May 23:                                          

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $72.59 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $1.85 per head.

The Sterling Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are produced by Sterling Marketing Inc. and John Nalivka, president, Vale, Ore., and are published weekly by Drovers/CattleNetwork, and PorkNetwork.