Pork producer margins turned higher last week to $12.12 per head compared with $11.18 for the week before. However, that rate is less than half of the return seen one year ago at $27.60 per head, and is down from last month’s estimate at $15.37 for farrow-to-finish producers.

Pork packer margins continued to decline. Losses for the week ending March 30 are reported at $12.66 per head, down 29 cents from the previous week, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. For the same week in 2011, packers reported a $10.75 per-head profit.  

Last week, Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices slipped about $3 per hundredweight to land at $82.92. One year ago, cash hog prices averaged $84.03 per hundredweight. The breakeven price for farrow-to-finish producers for last week came in at $81.98 per hundredweight, up about $1 from the week before and just 30 cents shy of 2011’s level.

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

The Sterling Pork Profit Tracker for the week ending March 30:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $12.12 per head.
  • Average pork packer margins: -$12.66 per head.

Cattle feeding margins took a hit last week, with the Sterling Beef Tracker reporting a $3.55 per-head loss, compared with a $22.93 profit the previous week. Packer margins dropped significantly as well, reporting a loss of $96.48 per head. That compares to $60.80 per-head loss the week before and a $48.76 per-head profit for the same week in 2011.

Cash fed cattle traded at $124.69 per hundredweight last week, down $1 from the week before. A year ago, cattle feeders sold cash cattle at $120.60 per hundredweight and pulled in a $245.46 per-head profit.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending March 30:


  • Average feedyard margins: -$3.55 per head.
  • Average packer margins: -$96.48 per head.
  • Sterling Profit Quotient: -35.5.

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.