US cattle feeders made an estimated $210.53 a head on cattle sold last week, a $26.71, or $14.5%, increase from $183.82 the previous week, according to Sterling Marketing’s Beef Profit Tracker published by “Drovers” magazine.
A month earlier, feeders were making an estimated $65.54 a head, while in the same week a year ago, they made $171.82.
Working against cattle feeders for last week’s sales were slightly higher costs for the feeder cattle that were sold as fed cattle. A calculated cost at the Oklahoma City Auction Market for 750- to 800-pound feeder cattle that were sold as finished cattle to packer buyers last week was $142.77 per cwt, up $2.37, or 1.69%, from $140.40 the previous week.
However, the calculated cost for those same feeder cattle a month earlier was $153.24. So, the feeder cattle costs for the finished cattle sold last week declined $10.47, or 6.83%, in just a month.
Feeder cattle costs for fed cattle sold in the year-earlier week were $149.52 per cwt, $6.75, or 4.51%, above the costs for last week’s feedlot marketings.
Feeder cattle costs for last week’s feedlot placements were calculated at $144.00 per cwt, down $8.17, or 5.37%, from $152.17 a week earlier and $5.87, or 3.92%, below the $149.87 of a month earlier. But compared with last year’s $132.16, last week’s feeder cattle costs were up $11.84, or 8.96%.
FEED COSTS DECLINING
Helping feedlots with last week’s calculated profit margin were declining feed costs. The Profit Tracker estimated these costs for cattle sold to packers last week at $270.37 a head, down $5.77, or 2.09%, from $276.14 a week earlier and down $18.31, or 6.34%, from $288.68 for finished cattle sold a month earlier.
Compared with estimated feed costs of $243.80 a head a year earlier, estimated feed costs last week were $26.57 a head, or 10.9%.
Estimated feed costs for cattle placed on feed last week of $277.30 a head were up $4.13, or 1.51%, from $273.17 a week earlier and even were up $0.33, or 0.12%, from $276.97 a month ago. Estimated feed costs when compared with $260.47 a year ago were up $16.83, or 6.46%.
The calculated breakeven price need for feedlots for cattle sold to packers last week was $107.66 per cwt, up from $106.70 a week earlier but down from $115.11 a month earlier. A year ago, the calculated breakeven need of feedlots for their marketings were $109.57.
The calculated breakeven need of feedlots for cattle placed on feed last week was $108.88 per cwt, down from $113.35 a week earlier and down from $112.29 a month ago. However, the calculated breakeven need was above the $100.74 of a year ago.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle traded early last week at $118 to mostly $120 per cwt on a live basis, about steady with the bulk of last week’s action, and then at $123 on Friday, up about $3. On a dressed basis, cattle traded at $192 to $193 early, steady to up $1 and then at $195 on Friday, up $3.
Only 108 cattle traded Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange video auction at $119.75 per cwt, up $0.75 from the previous week.
The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was up $0.21 per cwt at $205.07, while select was off $0.64 at $199.52. The choice/select spread widened to $5.55 from $4.70 with 77 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME did not publish a Feeder Cattle index Monday. For the seven days ended Thursday, it was $148.01 per cwt, up $1.54. This compares with Monday’s Jan settlement of $147.90, down $0.05 and Mar’s settlement of $145.82, down $0.22.