Record-high feed prices are weighing further on pork producers’ margins, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Margins for farrow-to-finish systems remain on the plus-side, averaging $21.94 per head for the week ending July 20. That’s down $5.74 per head from the previous week at $27.68. For the same week a year ago, margins were on an upward trend, averaging $35.85 per head.

According to Sterling Marketing, the feed cost was $138.11 for pigs placed into the finisher last week, compared to last year at $117.80. Total cost for those same pigs came in at $195.05 for the week compare to last year’s cost at $174.55.

Packer margins, while still in the red, improved nearly $4 per head on the week. Sterling Marketing reports packer margins at a $10.33-per-head loss for the week ending July 20. That compares to the previous week’s loss at $14.44 per head. For the same week a year ago, packers were making a $5.98-per-head profit.

Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices slipped to $95.32 per hundredweight. A week earlier, prices averaged $96.65 per hundredweight, and last year prices were $96.10.

Sterling Marketing provides the Sterling Pork and Beef Profit Trackers, which are calculated using actual weekly prices for hogs and cattle, feed costs, pork and beef cutout prices, drop credits and other factors that influence profit margins.

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending July 20:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $21.94 per head
  • Average pork packer margins: -$10.33 per head

Cattle feeding margins dropped further, as losses for the week ending July 21 averaged $270.31 per head. That compares to a per-head loss of $243.06 the week before and $112.88 for the same period in 2011, according to the Sterling Beef Tracker.

Beef packers are still making a profit, but margins were cut nearly in half at $6.68 per head versus $13.10 the week before. All of that pales in comparison to the profits of 2011 when packers were making $43.77 per head in the third week in July. 

Cash fed cattle prices slipped $1.70 per hundredweight to $113. The week before, prices were $114.70 per hundredweight and last year’s price was $108.42.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending July 21:

  • Average feedyard margins: -$270.31 per head
  • Average packer margins: $6.68 per head
  • Sterling Profit Quotient: -813.4

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