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U.S. milk production continues to increase
August 28, 2017

U.S. milk production in July at 18.2 billion pounds was up 1.8 percent year over year on an additional 74,000 cows and an extra 20 pounds per cow, according to the latest milk production report from USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service.

However, production in the Northwest and California, was down, with fewer cows and lower milk production per cow reported in Washington and Oregon, fewer cows in California and lower production per cow in Idaho.

Milking parlour

The cow count in Idaho increased 2,000 head to 601,000, but monthly milk production per cow was off 10 pounds to 2,155 pounds. That dropped total production by 0.2 percent.

The main reason is a long, hot summer that’s dragged on for a couple of months, said Tony VanderHulst, a Wendell dairyman and president of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

“Cows are tired. They’re recovering from a long winter, and then they get a hot summer. It hammered on them; it’s a double-whammy,” he said.

Feed quality is fine, but cows are weary, milk prices are low and everybody’s just trying to buckle down. It’s a roller coaster ride, he said.

Mornings have been cooling off the last couple of weeks, but it’s been a hot couple of months and milk production isn’t going to turn around overnight. Fall is coming on, and cows will be using their energy to put on winter coats, he said.

“So they’re getting over one winter and getting ready for another, and the Farmers’ Almanac is expecting it to be another rough one,” he said.

California’s steady decline in milk production tapered off a bit in July, down only 0.2 percent. Cow numbers are still heading south — down 13,000 in July year over year to 1.75 million — but milk per cow saw a 10-pound boost.

Oregon was down only 1,000 cows from a year ago, but per cow production dropped 40 pounds. Washington was down 2,000 cows and 30 pounds per cow.

Production was up markedly in other Western states, with New Mexico up 8.4 percent, Arizona up 6.3 percent, Colorado up 6.8 percent and Utah up 9.6 percent.

Texas was up 14.8 percent and has posted double-digit increases all year. Cow numbers in July were up 25,000 head year over year, and production per cow was up 130 pounds.

Some of the Lone Star State’s impressive increases this year are reflective of the industry’s recovery from winter storm Goliath that hit in late December 2015, but producers have expanded herd size beyond pre-Goliath numbers, said Ellen Jordan, dairy specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

The cow count on Texas dairies — 461,000 in December 2015 — dropped to 455,000 in January 2016. In July, it was up to 515,000, according to USDA.

Herd growth was somewhat subdued last year. Growers refilled their pens after Goliath but have continued to add cows. A couple of good crop years have allowed them to finish filling their facilities. They might have added some pens, but there aren’t any new facilities or parlor expansions, she said.

“So I think we’ll continue with slow growth but not at this pace,” she said.

In addition to the Northwest and California, production declines in July were seen in four other of the 23 reporting states. Production was down slightly in New York where the cow count was up 4,000 head but milk per cow was down 15 pounds.

Losses in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia were due to fewer cows.


Source: Capital Ag Press


Summer 2018