While April U.S. cow numbers were unchanged from March, the April Milk Production report showed a decline of 1.0% from last year.
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Production per cow was unchanged from last April. (Farm Journal)

Despite high milk prices, cow numbers were 98,000 fewer than last April and unchanged from last month. Production per cow was unchanged from last April. Here are the results among the top six milk producing states:

State Production Change Change in Cows
CA 3.623 billion -0.6% +2,000
WI 2.641 billion -0.1% -1,000
TX 1.399 billion +4.7% +23,000
ID 1.375 billion 0.0% 0
NY 1.305 billion -0.8% -6,000
MI 978 million -3.4% -17,000

“Seeing [April] cow numbers that were unchanged from March is supportive to the market because we saw a huge increase the previous month,” says Robin Schmahl, branch manager of John Stewart and Associates. “That’s unusual to see that much of a difference and not see any real change this month, but it’s not unheard of.”

Not surprising, South Dakota is one again the outlier, with milk product up 16.7% and cow numbers 25,000 higher from a year ago. Both Florida and New Mexico showed a different story, both down, 12.1% and 12.9%, respectively

South Dakota Dairy producer Lynn Boadwine in Baltic, remarks that the dairy growth in his state has been remarkable. Although he easily recalls the late 1990s as cow numbers were quickly dwindling. Boadwine, who milks 2,400 cows near Sioux Falls, was concerned that they were in jeopardy of losing their existing processors and would end up having nowhere to sell their milk.

“Our state stepped up and did a good job in recruiting both producers and processors,” he says. “It takes smart growth—don’t outproduce your processing capacity.”

Since then, South Dakota has worked hard to increase both cow numbers and new dairies, as well as processors. They have gained Bel Brands to Brookings and Agropur to Lake Norden, as well as seen growth in existing manufacturers, including Valley Queen.

This week’s Global Dairy Trade auction resulted in a -2.6% decline in the overall price index, its fifth consecutive decline. Butter fell 1.0% to $2.6082. Cheddar was down 0.1% to $2.5560. Skim milk powder lost 0.6% to $1.8670, and whole milk powder tumbled 4.9% to $1.7845.

The June Class I mover was announced to be $25.87/cwt., up $0.42 from May, and another record high. The ‘average of, plus $0.74’ formula resulted in the price being $0.62/cwt. more than the previous ‘higher of’ formula.

Farmer organisations have called the proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cattle as big, complex and overly prescriptive.

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