Pork producer margins, gained back $1.17 per head by the end of last week. Packer margins also improved by 91 cents per hog, but are still in the red.

For farrow-to-finish producers, profit margins for the week ending April 13, came in at $10.85 per head. That compares to $9.68 per head the week before, and $32.41 for the same period last year, according to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker. Overall, costs are running significantly lower than levels of a year ago.

Packers are showing signs of recovery, with margins reported at $9.09 per head for the week ending April 13; a week prior, packers reported a loss of $10 per head. For the comparable week of April 13 in 2011, pork packers reported a $4.81 per head profit.

Last week, Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices dropped slightly to $82.17 per hundredweight, which compares with $82.96 the week before. In 2011, hog prices were $3.83 per hundredweight higher, according to Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore.

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 April 13:

• Average farrow-to-finish margins: $10.85 per head
• Average pork packer margins: -$9.09 per head

Cattle feeding margins continue to be pummeled, as demand issues continue to weigh on the beef complex. The Sterling Beef Tracker reports margins for the week ending April 13 at $78.62 per-head loss. That compares with the previous week’s loss at $58.73.  A year ago, feeder margins were $219.57 per head in the black.   

Packer margins recovered a bit, reported at a $106.57 per-head loss, compared with a $112.10 per-head loss for the week before, a $15.77 per-head loss for the same week in 2011.

Cash fed cattle prices held nearly steady at $121.47 hundredweight last week, versus $121.73 the week before. Both are still higher than a year ago when cattle feeders sold cash cattle at $118.99 per hundredweight.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending April 13:

• Average feedyard margins: -$78.62 per head
• Average packer margins: -$106.57 per head
• Sterling Profit Quotient: -264.5

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.