Per-cow production highest ever for February; California output drops whopping 3.8%.
U.S. dairies in the 23 major milk-producing states in February increased their output 1.7% over year-earlier levels, producing 15.1 billion pounds of milk, USDA reported today.
The biggest production gains were seen in mostly cold-weather states:
In stark contrast, California dropped a whopping 3.8% from February 2014 levels. It marked the second consecutive month that the nation’s No. 1 milk-producing state saw its output decline. In January, the Golden State curbed its milk production by 2.6% from year-earlier levels. The two-month drop is likely a result of 2015’s lower milk prices, which are driving producers to heavier culling as they take advantage of strong beef prices. The lower output may also stem from producers readjusting their feed rations as milk prices fall to the $14 level. Many producers blame California’s state pricing system for dairy prices that fall below those in other states. In addition, increased competition for land and water from permanent crops, as well as high energy and labor costs, could be forcing more contraction in California’s milk output.
New Mexico’s February output dropped 3.7% from year-earlier levels.
Production per cow in the 23 major states reached the highest production per cow for the month of February since the 23 state series began in 2003, USDA said. Per-cow output averaged 1,757 lb. for February, 8 lb. above February 2014. This comparison is based upon all months of February being adjusted to 28 days.
The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states rose to 8.62 million head, 106,000 head more than February 2014, and 2,000 head more than January 2015.
January revised production, at 16.5 billion pounds, was up 2.2 percent from January 2014. The January revision represented an increase of 17 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.