The USDA’s 20-state milk production report, released Friday, shows May milk production at 12.6 billion pounds, down 1.1 percent from May 2000. Meanwhile, April revised production was 12.2 billion pounds, down 2.0 percent from April 2000.

Cow numbers were at 7.74 million head, that’s a decrease of 55,000 head from last May, but unchanged from April 2001. Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania felt the brunt of the loss — down 57,000, 25,000, 17,000 and 16,000 cows, respectively. Meanwhile, California showed the strongest increase in cow numbers — up 67,000 cows from last year.

Milk production per cow in the 20 major states averaged 1,629 pounds per cow for the month – about 54.3 pounds per cow per day. While that still is about 0.23 pounds per day less than May 2000, milk per cow per day is up about 2 pounds from April.

The two items of note from this report:

  • Although overall milk production was down, the amount of decrease was smaller than the declines posted the two previous months.
  • Cow numbers had been declining by an average of 9,000 head per month since last August. May marked the first month that cows numbers were maintained from one month to the next.

If cow numbers are starting to stabilize, and milk production is recovering, these two factors combined indicate the potential for milk production to return to normal levels more quickly than anticipated. You’ll want to keep an eye on these two factors when the next report comes out in July.

So far this year, milk production for the 20 survey states is down 2.4 percent compared to the previous year. However, in the latest Milk Supply/Demand Report, USDA now predicts annual milk production for all 50 states will trail 2000 milk production by just 1 percent.

On the price side, USDA predicts Class III prices to average between $14.80 and $15.30 per hundredweight for July, August and September, with an average price per hundredweight for the year between $13.15 and $13.55.