January Milk Production Up 0.9%

February 20, 2014 08:40 AM

U.S. milk production in January climbed 0.9% over a year ago, even though cow numbers declined by 13,000 head. Milk per cow in January was up 19 lb. over a year ago.

For the entire year of 2013, milk production climbed 0.3% over 2012, topping out at 201 billion pounds of milk, USDA reported this afternoon. The average number of milk cows in 2013 was 9.22 million, down 0.1% from 2012. Milk per cow climbed to 21,822 lb., or 102 lb. more than 2012.

There was a slight change to the top 10 rankings of states, with Michigan now taking the #7 spot and climbing over Minnesota. That’s despite the fact that Minnesota still boasts 464,000 dairy cows to Michigan’s 380,000 cows. The difference is milk per cow. Michigan cows now average 24,116 lb. per year compared to Minnesota’s average of 19,698. Note: If Minnesota production per cow just equaled the national average, it would rank sixth in milk production and not eighth.

For the month of January, 2014, California saw production jump 4.7% over year ago numbers. Wisconsin, in contrast, saw milk production decline 2.9% because of substantially less milk per cow. Harsh, cold weather meant Wisconsin cows had to consume more dry matter simply to maintain body condition, let alone milk production. Some handlers were reporting a milk decline of 5% for the month.

Read the full milk production report here

USDA also released its January livestock slaughter report this afternoon. The raw numbers show January dairy cow culling down 27,000 head from a year ago, or about a 9% decline. One could easily speculate that higher milk prices and lower feed costs meant breakeven income over feed cost was much improved this year.

Dairy farmers sent 270,000 cows to slaughter in January, which were 13,000 more than in December. But January had one more business day, so the number of cows sent to hamburger heaven per day was nearly identical in the last two months.

Read USDA’s livestock slaughter report here

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