With the marketing week ending Oct. 21st, U.S. milk production jumped again in September, thanks to increases in cow numbers and output per cow.
But there’s more to the report than meets the eye.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest data shows output at 18.28 billion pounds, up 1.5 percent from Sept. 2021. The 24-state total, at 17.5 billion pounds, was up 1.6 percent. It is the third monthly increase in 2022 and revisions raised the 50-state August total by 15 million pounds to 19.03 billion, up 1.7 percent from a year ago.
Cow numbers were expected to rise; but the September herd totaled 9.41 million which is down 2,000 head from August numbers (which were revised 14,000 head lower). The September herd was up 6,000 from a year ago — the first time since September 2021 the herd size was above a year ago — but was 8,000 fewer than the peak in May.
StoneX Dairy Group called the report “neutral to slightly bullish,” and “with only 52,000 cows added to the herd over four months, 2022 has presented the weakest herd expansion seen in the United States over the last 15 years.”
Output per cow averaged 1,943 pounds, up 27 pounds or 1.4 percent from September 2021. August output was revised up four pounds, to 2,022 pounds.
Third Quarter milk output was up 1.2 percent from 2021, with cow numbers unchanged from second quarter but 29,000 less than third quarter 2021.
California output totaled 3.3 billion pounds in September, up 0.5 percent from a year ago. Cow numbers were up 4,000 and output per cow was up 20 pounds. Wisconsin produced 2.6 billion pounds, up 0.9 percent. Cow numbers were down 7,000 but output per cow was up 30 pounds from a year ago.
Idaho was up 2.4 percent on a 30-pound gain per cow and 6,000 more cows. Michigan was down 0.7 percent on a loss of 11,000 cows. Output per cow was up 40 pounds. Minnesota was up 0.6 percent, thanks to a 45-pound-per-cow gain — offsetting an 8,000 cow drop. New Mexico was down 3.3 percent on a 16,000 cow drop. A 40-pound increase in output per cow could not offset the loss in cow numbers.
New York was up 2.2 percent, thanks to a 55-pound gain per cow offsetting a loss of 3,000 cows. Oregon was down 0.9 percent on a loss of 1,000 cows and unchanged output per cow. Pennsylvania was off 0.1 percent on a drop of 5,000 cows. Output per cow was up 15 pounds. South Dakota was up 14.9 percent, thanks to 25,000 more cows; but output per cow was down 10 pounds. Texas was up 8.5 percent on 30,000 more cows and a 70-pound gain per cow.
Vermont was unchanged, thanks to a 45-pound gain per cow offsetting the loss of 3,000 cows. Washington State was down 1.2 percent on 7,000 fewer cows, though output per cow was up 30 pounds.
The USDA’s October Livestock Dairy and Poultry Outlook stated, “Based on recent milk production information, the forecast for the average number of milk cows in 2022 has been increased 5,000 head, to 9.41 million as a more rapid pace of expansion is expected in late 2022. The projected average yield per cow was adjusted higher for the remainder of 2022, at 24,110 pounds.
More dairy cows are expected in the first half of 2023 and productivity is expected to be higher. Cow numbers were increased 10,000 head to 9,425 million. Milk per cow was raised 20 pounds, to 24,320 pounds, says the USDA.
Dairy cow culling fell in September. An estimated 260,500 head were sent to slaughter under federal inspection, according to the latest Livestock Slaughter report, down 5,600 head from August and 4,100 or 1.5 percent below September 2021. Culling in the nine months totaled 2.28 million, down 59,800 or 2.6 percent from 2021.
Culling in the week ending Oct. 8, totaled 60,000 dairy cows, down 1,100 from the previous week but 600 head or 1.0% above a year ago.
Dairy cow slaughter has exceeded 2021 levels for three consecutive weeks, according to StoneX. However, “The market share of dairy cows being processed as part of the beef market has fallen from year-ago levels. Total cattle slaughter is also up and has exceeded year-ago levels for the last seven weeks.”
Feed costs and availability are blamed. “That, coupled with the strong cash price for cattle, is lending plenty of fuel to the ﬁre to incentivize farmers to sell their cows.”
Source: The Land/Lee Mielke