Profit Tracker: Cattle Feeding Margins Slowly Improve

Feedyard cattle
Feedyard cattle
(Wyatt Bechtel)

Cattle feeding losses were estimated at $141 per head the week ending July 24, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Negotiated cash cattle prices averaged $97.92 per cwt. on the week, about $1 higher than the previous week.

Packer margins were estimated at $302 per head, about $3 less than the previous week. The Choice beef cutout price averaged $200 per cwt., about $1 per cwt. higher than the previous week.

Feedyard margins reported by the Sterling Profit Tracker are calculated on a cash basis only with no adjustment for risk management practices.

A year ago cattle feeders found cash profits of $49 per head on closeouts the third week of July, while packers saw profits of $150. (Note: The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are intended only as a benchmark for the average cash costs of feeding cattle and hogs.)

Feeder cattle represent 73% of the cost of finishing a steer compared to 70% a year ago. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing Inc., Vale, Ore.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers saw their margins improve $6, with $57 per head losses. Lean carcass prices traded at $33.24 per cwt. A year ago pork producers earned $32 per head profit. Pork packers saw average profits of $65 per head, about $2 per head higher than the previous week.

(Editor’s note: Sterling Marketing is a private, independent beef and pork consulting firm not associated with any packing company or livestock feeding enterprise.)

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