Profit Tracker: Modest losses

Last week's $1 per cwt retreat in cash cattle prices took feedyard margins only modestly lower. That's because the other variables on closeouts remained mostly unchanged, according to the

Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Feedyards lost an average of $13 per head last week as the total cost of finishing cattle was $1,664, compared to $1,662 the previous week and $2,103 last year.

Beef packer margins held steady at $91 per head, according to calculations by Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. Packers earned an average of $32 per head during the same period a year ago.

A month ago cattle feeders were earning $27 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $9 per head. Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 77% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork

producers earned $8 per hog last week, about $3 per head less than the week before, and $25 per head less than a month ago.

Pork packers saw their margins improve $1 per head to $12, which compares with $16 profits a month ago. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $64.85 per cwt. last week, a decrease of $2.50 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $32 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $13 per cwt. lower.

Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $175 per cow this year. Last year's estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.