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  February 19, 2010

The January 2010 milk production report showed 3,000 more cows in the 23 major milk producing states compared with the previous month of December 2009. This is the first month-over-month increase in cow numbers after six straight months of declining numbers. Pennsylvania and Arizona each added 2,000 cows in January (compared with December), and Washington state added 3,000 cows. Year-over-year comparisons show milk production was down 0.6% from Jan. 2009, with the number of milk cows down 191,000 head from a year ago, but milk output per cow was up about 1.1-lb/cow/day to a U.S. average of 57 lbs/cow/day.

But... here's the kicker. 2009 total production was 0.3% below 2008. Ohio State University dairy economist Cameron Thraen notes that the last time the annualized U.S. milk output grew this slowly was the first quarter of 2004. Remember what happened then? The Class III price soared to $20.58.

Of course, he also notes that continued strong culling to get the national herd below 9 million cows is needed to get prices back to profitable levels.

Compared with January 2009: Milk production during January 2010 in California and southwestern states fell 2.4 to 10.4%. In northwestern states production was 1.1 to 5.0% higher. In the midwestern states, production also increased, with Wisconsin leading the way having 5,000 more cows, more output per cow, and total production up 4.7%. (Minnesota gained 2,000 cows and 3.6% production; Michigan lost 1,000 cows but gained in output per cow to net a 2.4% production increase over year ago). In the northeast and mideast -- Pennsylvania's January 2010 production fell 1.7% from year ago based on 9,000 fewer cows and output per cow being equal to a year ago. New York's production was 1.3% below year earlier with 14,000 fewer cows making more milk per cow. Vermont's production was down 1.4%. The green mountain state lost 3,000 cows, but gained in milk output per cow. Ohio lost 5,000 cows, but increased production per cow to net total production up 1.2% over a year ago. 

The annual milk production summary shows the average number of milk cows on farms in 2009 was 9.2 million head, which is 1.2% below the average number for 2008. However, milk production for the year was only 0.3% below 2008. The USDA milk production summary also revealed that milk output per cow has increased 13% during the decade from 2000 to 2009.


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