Profit Tracker: Margins Continue Improving, Packers Slip


Greg Henderson, FarmJournal's Pork

December 4, 2018


Cattle feeding margins improved for the third consecutive week, boosted by a $1 improvement in fed cattle prices. Closeouts posted an average profit of $54 per head last week, $16 better than the week before, according to the Sterling Beef Profit Tracker, Packer margins dipped $31 per head to an average profit of $168 per head. Fed cattle prices improved to $117.64 per cwt.


The beef cutout was slightly lower at $211.10. The cost of finishing a steer last week was calculated at $1,559, which is $29 lower than the $1,588 a year ago. The Beef and Pork Profit Trackers are calculated by Sterling Marketing Inc., Vale, Ore.


A year ago cattle feeders were earning an average of $66 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 slip $6  to average losses of $19 per head. Lean carcass prices traded at $51.19 per cwt., $1.97 per cwt. lower than the previous week, and $9.26 lower than a month ago. A year ago pork producers were earning about $3 per head. Pork packer margins averaged a profit of $27 per head last week...


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