Profit Tracker: In retreat

Feedyard margins dropped another $20 last week to total an average loss of $90 per head, according to the

Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. It was a week that saw cash fed cattle prices dip another $1 per cwt, and the total cost of finishing a steer increased $6 per head.

Cash prices traded at $101.73, about $3 per cwt lower than a month ago. The total cost of finishing cattle last week was $1,507, compared to $1,501 the previous week and $2,146 last year, according to Sterling Marketing.

Beef packer margins increased $7 per head to $189. Packers earned an average of $115 per head during the same period a year ago.

A month ago cattle feeders were losing $202 per head, while a year ago losses were calculated at $398 per head. Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer, compared to 78% last year.

Farrow-to-finish pork

producers lost $36 per hog last week, about steady with the week before. A month ago farrow-to-finish pork producers lost about $7.50 per head.

Pork packers saw their margins hold about steady at $38 per head. Negotiated prices for lean hogs were $49 per cwt. last week, a decline of nearly $3 per cwt. from the previous week. Cash prices for fed cattle are $23 per cwt. lower than last year and prices for lean hogs are $24 per cwt. lower.

Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects average cash profit margins for cow-calf producers at $154 per cow this year. In 2017, Nalivka projects cow-calf profits of $21. Last year's estimated average cow-calf margins were $432 per cow.