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1708 PD: Will Idaho become #3 in milk production this year? Part 2

Published on 26 November 2008

New York’s milking herd shrunk by 1,000 cows in October, only slightly improving Idaho’s chances of becoming the nation’s No. 3 milk-producing state by the end of the year. After the first month of the fourth quarter, the difference in total annual milk production between the two states was 89 million pounds, down from 118 million pounds at the beginning of the quarter.

Idaho made up ground by maintaining its current herd size of 554,000 cows and an average per-cow production of 1,880 pounds throughout October. However, Gem State producers could have made up even more ground and improved their chances of passing New York had they expanded the state’s dairy herd in October. Per-cow production numbers in Idaho and New York historically drop off in November by 2 to 4 percent. Milk production in both states usually rebounds to levels just less than October production numbers in December.

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Idaho would need New York’s herd size to shrink or per-cow production to lag behind last year’s fourth quarter production in order to have a chance to catch the Empire State. New York’s per-cow production averaged 1,620 pounds in October, a half-percentage decrease from last year’s October production. Yet for the remainder of 2008 Idaho still needs New York to continue to falter. Here are a few scenarios.

Worst-case scenario
New York adds back the 1,000 cows it lost in October before the end of the year. (Two out of the last three years New York producers have culled cows in November only to add them back in December.) In this scenario, Idaho producers would have to add more than 6,000 cows to the state herd to still have a chance.

Best-case scenario
New York loses at least another 1,000 cows before the end of the year and its year-over-year milk yield continues to slump at least as much as October’s half-percentage decrease for the remainder of the quarter. Idaho at the same time adds 5,000 cows to its statewide herd. Idaho would still have a chance to pass New York in this scenario.

As of the beginning of November, Idaho has more chances to remain No. 4 in milk production for 2008 than it has to pass New York for No. 3. It’s not an impossible task, but a difficult one. PD

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