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U.S. milk production increasing

Toa55/iStock/Thinkstock dairy cows being milked milking parlor milkers holstien
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Dairy cow numbers in the U.S. appear to be plateauing a bit in the middle of 2021.

The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) reports that dairy cow numbers in the U.S. appear to be plateauing a bit in the middle of 2021, settling in at 9.5 million cows in July. June and July data showed month-over-month declines in inventory after 13 consecutive monthly increases. However, milk cow productivity had a very strong Q2, increasing more than 2%. 

LMIC said the combination of higher cow numbers than a year ago and higher milk per cow led to the U.S. milk production number averaging 3% higher than a year ago for the last five months. The highest month was May, at 4.65% above a year ago, followed by April, which registered nearly 3.5%.

USDA data showed the top 24 milk producing states had similar trends to the U.S. totals, but according to LMIC, gains in these states were collectively slightly higher than the U.S. average.

Milk production average gains were up 3.23% from the prior year over the last five months, LMIC relayed. However, data for the top 24 states showed cow numbers in July were lower—down 5,000 head—than the previous month. The decrease was attributed to lower numbers in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Washington. LMIC said Arizona, Indiana, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin all increased month over month, with Wisconsin showing the largest growth of 4,000 head. New Mexico had the largest decline, down 5,000 head.

LMIC said hot weather and feed costs took its toll on a few western states—California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. The aggregate average across this group was down 1.2% from last year. Washington had the largest decline, down 4%. Interestingly, LMIC reported that the Northeast states of New York and Vermont were among the highest milk per cow increases up 2.17% and 3.11%, respectively. Georgia and Wisconsin also exceeded an increase of 2% or more in July compared to last year.



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