Profit Tracker: Steady Money, Eroding Profits

Feedlot closeouts averaged a profit of $22 per head last week, while packer margins remain above $200.
Feedlot closeouts averaged a profit of $22 per head last week, while packer margins remain above $200.
(Wyatt Bechtel)

Despite steady cash prices at $114, cattle feeding margins declined another $36 per head last week, leaving closeouts just $22 in the black, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker. Packer margins slipped a modest $14 per head, but remain at $205 the final full slaughter week before Thanksgiving.

The beef cutout was steady declined $3.35 per cwt. to $221.28. The cost of finishing a steer last week was calculated at $1,541, which is $142 lower than the $1,683 a year ago. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing Inc., Vale, Ore.

A year ago cattle feeders were losing an average of $50 per head. Feeder cattle represent 72% of the cost of finishing a steer compared with 74% a year ago.

Farrow-to-finish pork producers saw their margins decline from a $6 loss two weeks ago to a loss of $13 per head last week. Lean carcass prices traded at $52.93 per cwt., $4.37 per cwt. lower than the previous week, and $8.48 lower than a month ago. A year ago pork producer margins were at breakeven. Pork packer margins averaged a profit of $25 per head last week.

Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects cash profit margins for cow-calf producers in 2018 will average $165 per cow. That would be steady compared to the $164 estimated average profit for 2017. Estimated average cow-calf margins were $176 in 2016, and $438 per cow in 2015.

For feedyards, Nalivka projects an average profit of $22 per head in 2018, which would be $159 less than the average of $181 per head in 2017. Nalivka expects packer margins to average about $165 per head in 2018, up from $120 in 2017.

For farrow-to-finish pork producers, Nalivka projects 2018 profit margins will average a loss of $3 per head in 2018, compared to profits of $21 in 2017. Pork packers are projected to earn $19 per head in 2018, down from $25 profit per head in 2017.

Recent Profit Trackers:

Steady Pre-holiday Margins

Feeding Margins Improve, Packers Over $200

 

Latest News

NAHMS To Conduct Feedlot Study

USDA's Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) is conducting a national study focusing on cattle health and management in U.S. feedlots with at least 50 head.

NCBA Opposes Cattle Markets Transparency Act In Current Form

The Cattle Transparency Act of 2021 was introduced in the Senate to mandate weekly minimum cash cattle trades. NCBA policy supports a voluntary approach to increase negotiated trades to regionally sufficient levels.

Peel: Volatile Feeder Auction Volumes in Oklahoma

Feeder cattle markets have bounced back from the brutal February storm just in time for the termination of winter grazing of dual-purpose wheat.

As Drought Intensifies, Farm Groups Fear Disaster Assistance Will Be a Tough Sell

The western half of the country continues to see little moisture, and after a year of record government payments to agriculture, farm groups fear financial assistance this year will be tough to get passed in Washington.

Cash Fed Cattle 5 Weeks Steady

The first week of March saw warm temperatures across most of the Central Plains, but cash cattle prices were frozen in neutral with feeders unable to wrangle additional market leverage.

Vaccine Available To Kansas Meatpacking Workers

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Thursday that every meatpacking plant worker in Kansas who wants a COVID-19 vaccination can get one by the end of next week.