Although still mired in red ink, pork producer losses eased for the week ending Dec. 21, according to calculations by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.  Farrow-to-finish producers lost an average $33.81 per head for the week, compared to losses of $38.53 recorded the week before. One month ago producers were losing $41.65 per head, according to Sterling estimates.

Meanwhile, pork packer margins slid into negative territory for the week ending Dec. 21 registering a slight loss of 82 cents per head, after recording a positive margin of $4.27 per head the previous week.  One year ago, pork packer margins were $10.02 per head on the plus side.

Hog slaughter for the week ending Dec. 21 totaled 2.348 million head, up 1.9 percent from the week before and up 8.9 percent compared to the same week last year. Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices improved slightly for the week to $82.74 per hundredweight versus $81.07 the week before.

Feed costs for the week ending Dec. 21 were estimated at $125.04 for hogs placed into finishing as of that date.  

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending Dec. 21:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: -$33.81 per head
  • Average pork packer margins: -$0.82 per head

Cattle feedlot losses also eased last week. Losses averaged $55.70 per head for the week ending Dec. 21. That compares to losses of $80.68 per head the week before and a $20.30 per head loss for the same week in 2011.

Beef packer losses grew for the week ending Dec. 21. Packers lost an average of $59.00 per head for the week compared to losses of 43.50 recorded the prior week.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending Dec. 21:

  • Average feedlot margins: -$55.70 per head
  • Average packer margins: -$59.00 per head
  • Sterling Profit Quotient: -183.2

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

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.