Weekly dairy cow slaughter under federal inspection

Week ending Nov. 29*: 46,100 head

Year-to-date (YTD) 2014: 2.536 million head

YTD compared to same period 2013: -294,500 head

Highlights: For the week, 24% came from USDA Zone 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH & WI); 28% came from USDA Zone 9 (AZ, CA, HI & NV).

Source: USDA Weekly Cow Slaughter Report

* Thanksgiving week


Low gasoline prices threaten ethanol profits

On Dec. 10, “DHM Numbers: Ethanol steps on the gas” highlighted a Renewable Fuels Association report indicating daily average ethanol production for the week of Dec. 5 at set an all-time high. According to that report, ethanol production for the week averaged 41.5 million gallons/day, with the four-week average for ethanol production calculating to an annualized rate of 14.95 billion gallons. And, the industry was using 14.98 million bushels of corn per day.

This week, University of Illinois ag economists Scott Irwin and Darrel Good suggest plummeting gasoline prices could have far-reaching impacts for biofuels markets, including a slowdown in the growth in domestic ethanol consumption, and threatening growth in ethanol exports. Softness in export demand, in turn, could pressure ethanol prices, negatively impacting the profitability of ethanol production, they write in "Prospects for Ethanol Production Profits Dim as Gasoline Prices Plummet."

At the current price of corn ($3.65/bushel), low ethanol prices imply returns below estimated variable and fixed costs of ethanol production. Consequently, the University of Illinois economists expect the curtain to come down on the current period of exceptional ethanol production profits fairly quickly. Read their full report here: http://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2014/12/prospects-for-ethanol-production-profits.html.


New Holland Sales Stables

Dairy replacement sale results from New Holland, Pa. on Dec. 10. Compared to last week, dairy cows cows sold mostly mostly $200-$300 higher; demand was very good. Bred heifers sold mostly steady to $100-$300 higher; demand was very good. All sales on a per-head basis, Holsteins unless otherwise noted.


Fresh cows

Supreme: 2700-3400

Approved: 2100-2600

Medium: 1600-2000

Common: 1000-1500


Springing cows (7-9 months)

Approved: 1700-2100

Medium: 1500-1650


Bred cows: (4-6 months)

Medium: 1400-1500


Springing heifers (7-9 months)

Supreme: 2400-2600

Approved: 1900-2300

Medium: 1400-1875

Common: 1100-1350


Bred heifers (4-6 months)      

Supreme: 2100-2225

Approved: 1800-2075

Medium: 1400-1775

Common: 1000-1350


Short bred heifers (1-3 months)

Supreme: 1700-1800

Approved: 1400-1675

Medium: 1000-1400

Common: 725-1000



Holiday Spotlight: Butter

Commercial disappearance and per capita consumption of butter are currently at a four-decade high, while margarine continues to decrease.

For roughly 40 consecutive years (1909-1950), butter’s per capita consumption greatly exceeded margarine across the United States.  Margarine then surpassed butter until roughly five years ago, when butter pulled ahead again. Per capita butter consumption in 2012 was 5.6 lbs.

Butter household penetration is on the rise, gaining 6 million household buyers between 2010 and 2013. Butter sales increased by +6% in 2013, or 39 million lbs.

While total domestic commercial disappearance continues to grow in 2014, retail sales are soft (after three years of growth), suggesting that ingredient and foodservice usage remains positive.

Volume sales of butter tend to surge around major holidays, and is more commonly used at home as an additive with food, rather than as an ingredient in dishes or as a cooking aid.

Butter commercial exports reached a high of 178 million lbs. in 2013, but exports were down 4% through September of this year.

Source: DMI