for this brighter price picture to materialize domestic sales of cheese and butter, and dairy exports need to hold up as well as milk production showing relatively small growth, that is less than 2%. However, USDA's report on March milk production did not indicate milk production has started to slow. Revised U.S. milk cow numbers showed estimated cow numbers actually increased by 1,000 head in February and are estimated to be up another 17,000 head in March. March cow numbers were 0.8% higher than a year ago, and with 1.4% more milk per cow total milk production was 2.2% higher.
Western states are adding milk cows. Cow numbers have been below year ago levels in California until March where there were 1,000 more than a year ago. For other Western states cow numbers compared to a year ago were up 10% in Arizona, 7.8% in Colorado, 3.7% in Idaho, 3.4% in New Mexico, 2.0% in Washington, 3.9% in Texas and 4.3% in Kansas. Cow numbers for some other stated were up 4.4% in Florida, no change in New York, up 0.4% in Pennsylvania, 0.2% in Minnesota and 0.5% in Wisconsin. Despite dairy cow slaughter being about 9% higher than a year ago January through March more than an adequate number of dairy replacements allows for a growth in the nation's dairy herd. Attractive prices for slaughter cows also help in purchasing replacements.
With the increase in cow numbers total milk production was also up substantially in several states. Compared to a year ago the following states had increases in milk production of: Arizona 8.6%, California 3.1%, Colorado 8.6%, Idaho 3.7%, New Mexico 3.4%, Texas 7.0%, Kansas 5.7%, and Florida 6.3%. Increases were much less in the Northeast and Upper Midwest with increases of 3.1% in the New York but down 0.7% in Pennsylvania, and down 1.5% in Minnesota with Wisconsin up 1.3%.
Source: Bob Cropp, Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension University of Wisconsin-Madison