WITH better prices and increased profitability, dairy producers continued to post incremental gains in monthly milk production.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's October "Milk Production" report, producers in the 23 major dairy states marketed 15.4 billion lb., up 1.2% from the same month in 2012.
Production was 1% larger than a year ago in September as well and has generally been running 1-2% larger than prior-year levels since May.
Per cow production in October averaged 1,806 lb., up 14 lb. from October 2012. Couple that with a slightly larger dairy herd — up 36,000 head from last year — and the increased production is a simple mathematical function.
The 23-state dairy herd totaled 8.5 million head in October, down incrementally from the previous month but keeping with seasonal trends. The herd typically peaks in size in late spring and trends lower through the early weeks of winter.
Strong demand led to a sharp drawdown in dairy inventories, according to USDA's October "Cold Storage" report. Butter stocks were down 59 million lb., although butter inventories are still nearly 30 million lb. larger than the five-year average; October inventories were 174 million lb., down from a May peak of 322 million.
Cheese stocks were likewise trimmed 32 million lb., more than double the typical October reduction. American cheese stocks are pretty close to the five-year average, clocking in at 629 million lb., according to analyst Jerry Dryer at DairyMarketAnalyst.com.