Even though record-high feed prices continue and the outlook remains uncertain, farrow-to-finish producers on average recovered $5 per head for the week ending July 27. According to the Sterling Pork Profit Tracker, average margins reported a $26.69-per-head profit, up from $21.94 per head for the week before.

Still, compared to the same week in 2011, producers were averaging $37.46 per head and prices were trending higher, reported at $101.35 per hundredweight. For the final week in July, Western Corn Belt negotiated hog prices increased about $1 from the week before, which put them at $96.34 per hundredweight. However, prices are not expected to rally this year as the calendar flips over to August.

Sterling Marketing calculations show that the feed cost for pigs placed in the finisher as of July 27 was $140.53, while that’s up only $2.42 from the previous week, it is more than $22 higher than the same time last year.

Packer margins continue to improve. While margins remain in the red, they improved more than $2 per head last week. Sterling Marketing reports packer margins at an $8.48-per-head loss for the week. That compares to the week before at $10.33-per-head loss, for the same week in 2011, packers were making a $1.48-per-head profit.

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 27:

  • Average farrow-to-finish margins: $26.69 per head
  • Average pork packer margins: -$8.48 per head

Cattle feeding margins claimed back $16.67 per head, but remained on the loss side of the ledger. For the week ending July 28 feedlot margins averaged a loss of $253.64 per head. That compares to the previous week reporting a $270.31-per-head-loss and a $128.41 loss for the last week in July 2011, according to the Sterling Beef Tracker.

Beef packer margins moved from the profit column at $6.68 per head to a loss of $12.99 per head. That compares to a month ago with profits at $78.43 per head and $40.41 for the same week in 2011

Cash fed cattle prices slipped a bit again, with prices at $114.68 per hundredweight compared to the week before at $113. For the last week in July one year ago, the cattle price was $108.29 per hundredweight.

The Sterling Beef Profit Tracker for the week ending July 28:

  • Average feedyard margins: -$253.64 per head
  • Average packer margins: -$12.99 per head
  • Sterling Profit Quotient: -768.2

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.