Farrow-to-finish margins hit the highest level, $84.70 per head, last week since John Nalivka began tracking the data. The previous week, margins were $66.31 per head and a year ago they stood at $7.06 per head. Lean hogs also improved, finishing the week ending March 14 at $114.22, compared to $106.03 the previous week.  

Pork packer margins increased $5.72 per head to $5.96. At this time last month, pork packers were earning $8.23 per head and $4.21per head at this time last year. The pork cutout value climbed more than $10 to $119.83, compared to $109 the previous week.

Cattle feeding margins had a strong week last week, finishing the week up $12.96 per head to $246.70, according to the Sterling Profit Tracker. One month ago, feeders were earning $209.54 per head but at this time last year, they were losing nearly $72 per head. Fed steers topped $151 last week, up nearly $2 per hundredweight while feeder steers hit $170.72 per hundredweight compared to $169 the previous week. Feed costs increased $3 per head to $317.81 and total costs climbed $16.90 per head to $1,821.09.

For the second week in a row, beef packer margins were in positive territory, finishing the week ending March 15 at $77.30 per head compared to $9.21 the previous week, negative $83.66 one month ago and negative $18.79 at this time last year. Another positive note for the cattle industry are cow-calf margins, which stand at $333.50 per cow for 2014, compared to $243.33 in 2013 and just $153.60 in 2011. The beef cutout value was also pushed higher last week, hitting $239.86, compared to $232.88 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending March 15:

  • Average feeder margins: $246.79 per head.
  • Average beef packer margins: $77.30 per head.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending March 14:                                          

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $84.70 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $5.96 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.