Farrow-to-finish margins dropped more than $16 per head last week from $55.39 per head, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. At this time last month, margins were more than $60 per head but at this time last year, farrow-to-finish margins were negative $9.88.

Lean hogs were also down last week, finishing the week at $94.87 per hundredweight, compared to $104.34 the previous week. Feed costs were mostly steady the final week of October.

Pork packer margins also dropped, averaging $8.55 per head last week compared to $18.32 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $102.09 per hundredweight, compared to $116.10 the previous week.

Volatility has been the name of the game with regard to margins in both the cattle feeding and packing sectors of the beef industry. And that’s a trend that continued the final week of October, according to the latest data from the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker.

Over the past four weeks, feedlot margins have made swings ranging from a $51 per head drop to an $89 per head increase. The final week of October, feedlot margins were pushed higher by strong fed cattle prices and reached $213.54 per head, a nearly $40 increase week-over-week. The end of October also saw a record in the fed cattle marketplace, with prices hitting $170 per hundredweight, a nearly $7 increase compared to the previous week and nearly $32 per hundredweight higher than this time last year.

Feeder calves, however, took a small dip last week, finishing the week at $239 compared to $241 the previous week. Last year, at this time feeder calves averaged $166, a $73 per hundredweight difference. Feed costs were up again, increasing to $292 from $289 the previous week.

Packer margins declined again last week, falling more than $24 per head to negative $68.61 from negative $43.93 the previous week. At this time last month, packers were losing $38.61 per head and $55.31 per head last year at this time. The beef cutout value was steady last week at $245.75 per hundredweight, but it is $50 per hundredweight higher than this time last year.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending October 25:

  • Average feeder margins: $213.54 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$68.61 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending October 24:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $38.68 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $8.55 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.