After falling nearly $100 per head over a matter of a couple of weeks, cattle feeding margins increased more than $60 per head last week to just over $200 per head, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. While less than last month’s $222 per head, feeders are earning nearly $160 more per head than they were last year at this time when margins were about $40.

For the week ending October 4, fed cattle prices averaged more than $2 per hundredweight higher and flirted once again with $160 at $159.98 compared to $157.51 per hundredweight the previous week. In early September, fed cattle averaged $161.31 per hundredweight. Feeder steers were also up last week, finishing the week at $237.17, compared to $232.53 per hundredweight the previous week. Likewise, the breakeven price for last week’s feedlot placements was calculated at $173.13 per hundredweight, up from $170.23 the previous week.

Packer margins, on the other hand, continued to slide last week. Packers lost $59.38 per head last week, compared to $38.95 the previous week. At this time last month, packers were earning $30.46 per head; however, in early October 2013, they were losing nearly $66 per head. The beef cutout value dropped another dollar last week to $235.48.

The Sterling Profit Tracker cow-calf margin was updated recently for 2014 and 2015, with 2014 at $527.25 per cow and 2015 at $687.75 per cow. In 2013, cow calf margins were $243.05 per cow and $213.63 per cow in 2012.

Farrow-to-finish margins continued increasing last week, finishing the week at $63.06 per head, compared to $60.84 per head the previous week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. In early October 2013, pork packers were earning just $4.57 per head.

Lean hogs inched higher, finishing the week ending October 3 at $110.19, compared to 109.43. Lower feed costs have been a positive for the livestock industry in recent months, and for hog producers, feed costs for last week’s finish placements were as low as they have been since October 2007 at $59.95 per head. Over the past month, feed costs have fallen from more than $87 per head.  

Pork packer margins also improved, reaching $18.76 last week compared to $10.69 the previous week. The pork cutout value finished the week at $122.13 per hundredweight, compared to $117.48 the previous week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending October 4:

  • Average feeder margins: $200.41 per head
  • Average beef packer margins: -$59.38 per head

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending October 3:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $63.06 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: $18.76 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.