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June Milk Production report: Cow numbers down a third straight month

Progressive Dairy Editor Dave Natzke Published on 22 July 2020

U.S. milk production grew modestly in June 2020, as year-over-year milk production per cow was virtually unchanged. One trend to watch: Cow numbers declined for a third straight month.

June 2019-20 recap at a glance

Reviewing the USDA preliminary estimates for June 2020 compared to June 2019:

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  • U.S. milk production: 18.31 billion pounds, up 0.5%
  • U.S. cow numbers: 9.35 million, up 23,000 head
  • U.S. average milk per cow per month: 1,958 pounds, up 4 pounds
  • 24-state milk production: 17.43 billion pounds, up 0.5%
  • 24-state cow numbers: 8.83 million, up 43,000 head
  • 24-state average milk per cow per month: 1,974 pounds, unchanged

Source: USDA Milk Production report, July 21, 2020

May 2020 production was revised upward about 0.5% (93 million pounds) from the previous preliminary estimate.

At the end of another quarter, April-June 2020 U.S. milk production was estimated at 55.9 billion pounds, up 0.4% from the same period a year ago. The average number of milk cows during the quarter was 9.36 million head, 31,000 head more than the same period last year, but 12,000 head less than January-March 2020.

Cow numbers down a third straight month

While U.S. cow numbers were up from the year before, they were down about 10,000 head from May 2020 and are down about 35,000 head from March 2020. In the 24 major dairy states, June cow numbers were down about 9,000 from May before and have declined by about 30,000 head since March.

Compared to a year earlier, June cow numbers were reported higher in 10 states and lower in 12 states (Table 1), with Virginia and Washington unchanged. Cow numbers were up a combined 71,000 in Texas, Idaho, South Dakota and Colorado, but down 29,000 head, collectively, in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and California.

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cow numbers

Milk per cow steady

Compared with last year, June 2020 U.S. average milk output per cow was virtually unchanged, up just 4 pounds for the month. Producers in some areas may still be making ration changes to meet milk production base restrictions imposed by co-ops and other milk buyers. Elsewhere, where base restrictions have come off, cows had not returned to normal production growth trends.

Monthly output per cow was unchanged in the 24 major dairy states (Table 2). Production was lower in 13 states, led by a drop of 5 pounds per day in New Mexico, and up in eight states, paced by Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Michigan remains the nation’s leader, averaging 2,260 pounds of milk per cow in June 2020.

cow numbers

Volume, percentage growth

Texas led all states in milk volume growth, up 51 million pounds (4.4%) from June 2019. Texas, Idaho, California, Colorado and South Dakota combined to increase milk output by 175 million pounds.

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In contrast, June 2020 milk production was lower than a year earlier in 11 states, with Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Florida down a combined 114 million pounds.

On a percentage basis, South Dakota production grew 9.5% compared to June 2019; Florida and New Mexico were each down about 6%.

Editor’s note: Check back for additional analysis and market commentary.  end mark

Dave Natzke
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