December milk production ‘neutral’
December milk production in the 23 major states was estimated at 15.70 billion lbs., up slightly from December 2012, according to USDA’s monthly Milk Production report. November revised production, at 14.95 billion lbs., was up 0.1% from November 2012, but down 32 million lbs. from last month’s preliminary estimate.

December 2013 cow numbers in the 23 major states were estimated at 8.500 million head, about 6,000 more than December 2012. Production per cow averaged 1,846 lbs. for December 2013, down 1 lb. from a year earlier.

Nationally, December production was estimated at 16.81 billion lbs., down slightly from December 2012. Cow numbers were estimated at 9.21 million head, down 12,000 from a year earlier. Production per cow was estimated at 1,826 lbs., up 1 lb. from December 2012.

Among major dairy states, largest percentage increases in milk production in December 2013 compared to December 2012 were: Utah (+6.7%) Colorado (+4.4%); Kansas and Florida (each +4.1%). California output was up 1.1%, but Wisconsin production declined 1.9% compared to a year earlier.
Biggest decliners (December 2013-December 2012) were: Illinois (-7.7%), Missouri (-6.1%) and Ohio (-3.5%).

Compared to a year earlier, December 2013 cow numbers were down 15,000 in Idaho, and down 5,000 in Minnesota. Texas cow numbers were up 7,000, with Kansas up 5,000.

The preliminary December 2013 estimates provide a first comparison between annual totals for 2013 and 2012.

In the 23 major dairy states, 2013 production was estimated at 187.7 billion lbs., up 0.5% from 2012. Cow numbers for the year averaged 8.511 million head, up 11,000 from 2012. Annual output per cow averaged 22,049 lbs. in 2013, up a meager 92 lbs. from 2012.

Nationally, 2013 production was estimated at 201.2 billion lbs., up 0.4% from 2012. Cow numbers for the year averaged 9.226 million head, down 7,000 from 2012. Annual output per cow averaged 21,806 lbs. in 2013, up just 109 lbs. from 2012.

2013 dairy cow culling tops 3 million
U.S. dairy cull cow slaughter topped 3 million head for a second consecutive year in 2013, just the fourth time cull dairy cow slaughter reached that mark since USDA began differentiating dairy cows from total cows in 1986.

Based on USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report, an estimated 256,700 culled dairy cows were slaughtered under federal inspection in December 2013, up 7,600 from November 2013, but 2,100 less than December 2012.

With December's figures, the 2013 total was estimated at 3.125 million head, 23,400 more than 2012’s total of 3.102 million.

Before 2012, dairy cow slaughter topped 3 million only twice: in 1986, at 3.595 million (whole herd buy-out program); and 1996, at 3.037 million.

Early signs indicate 2014 won't reach that number. Through the first two weeks of the year, cow culling was already 13,000 behind the first two weeks of 2013.

February FMMO Class I price a record high
The February 2014 federal order Class I base milk price is a record high $22.02/cwt., up 54¢ from January 2014 and $3.81 more than February 2013. The previous high was $21.78/cwt., in September 2011.

The February increase was powered by cheese, nonfat dry milk and dry whey. The two-week AMS-surveyed cheese price used in the price formula averaged $2.0308/lb., up 17.3¢, with nonfat dry milk averaging $2.0270/lb., up 8.5¢. Dry whey averaged 59.39¢/lb., up 2.7¢. The butter price used in calculating the Class I value averaged $1.5939/lb., down 4.7¢ from January.

National Dairy Products Sales Report weekly highlights
USDA’s weekly National Dairy Products Sales Report indicated Grade AA butter prices averaged $1.62/lb. for the week ending Jan. 18, up 5.4¢ from the previous week.

U.S. 40-lb. block cheddar cheese averaged $2.07/lb., up 6.8¢ from the previous week. The price for 500-lb. cheddar barrels, adjusted to 38% moisture, averaged $2.04/lb., up 9.3¢.

USDA Extra Grade dry whey averaged 59.5¢/lb., up 0.2¢.

USDA Extra Grade nonfat dry milk averaged $2.04/lb., up 2.0¢ from the previous week.