There are expectations of continued moderate U.S. dairy herd expansion this year into 2015. However, U.S. dairy farmers will have to do it with fewer available replacement heifers.
USDA released its semi-annual Cattle report on July 25, including survey-based estimates of U.S. dairy cows and replacement heifers.
click image to zoom As of July 1, 2014, milk cows were estimated at 9.267 million head, up 67,000 head (1%) from July 1, 2012, and the highest July 1 total since 2008. (There was no survey in July 2013 due to budget sequestration.) The estimate is up about 58,400 head from Jan. 1, 2014.
Meanwhile, dairy replacement heifers (>500 lbs.) were estimated at 3.900 million head on July 1, 2014, down 200,000 head from two years earlier, and equal to July 1 totals in 2007 and 2008. Based on those estimates, there were 42.1 heifers >500 lbs. per 100 cows on July 1.
USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook report forecasts dairy cow numbers to average 9.260 million head this year, increasing to 9.345 million head in 2015.
Affecting the total number of replacements available to U.S. farmers, about 20,000 female dairy replacements were exported in the first five months of 2014, down slightly from the pace set over the same period in 2012 and 2013.
Cow culling for slaughter is down from last year. January-June 2014 slaughter is estimated at 1.391 million head, down 175,600 from the same period in 2013.
In addition to more cows, USDA’s July dairy outlook expects milk per cow next year. With strong year-over-year rises in output per cow and modest herd expansion boosts milk production from June’s forecast to 212.4 billion lbs., up about 3.2% from 2014.
Fats-basis milk equivalent imports are forecast to be 3.5 billion lbs. in 2014 based on year-to-date movement and then to hold at 3.5 billion lbs. in 2015. Imports are forecast at 5.2 billion lbs. this year and 5.1 billion lbs. next year on a skims-solids basis. Skims-solids forecasts are lowered from June.
Current year fats-basis exports are lowered from June to 13.2 billion lbs. as high domestic butter prices curtail exports. Fats-basis exports for 2015 are unchanged from June at 13.0 billion lbs.. Skims-solids exports are raised in July to 40.4 billion lbs. based mostly on higher than expected year-to-date shipments of nonfat dry milk and skim milk powder (NDM/SMP). Next year, skims-solids basis exports are projected at 39.1 billion lbs., an increase from June’s forecast, but a year-over-year decline, based on increased foreign competition; however, global demand for NDM/SMP will remain strong. Internationally, exports are responding to high global demand. In the European Union, milk deliveries are at an all-time high, but robust foreign demand appears to support prices. Despite strong foreign competition, U.S. exports have remained firm, especially NDM and SMP exports to Mexico.