Trends: Dairy Cow Decline Continues as 2018 Comes to a Close

Trends: Dairy Cow Decline Continues as 2018 Comes to a Close

The dairy cow herd declined 3,000 head from November to December, the fourth consecutive month to register reductions. The dairy cow population in December was down 49,000 head from a year earlier at 9.351 million head. Milk cow productivity in December reversed a trend in moderating output that was seen in October and November, however, as milk per cow in December was up 21 pounds from the prior December. This compares with per cow output in October and November that was only up 16 pounds per cow from year earlier performance. Milk production in December was up half a percent from December 2017. For the entire year, milk production was up 0.9% from 2017.

No state showed a sharp decline in milk cows from November to December. Pennsylvania cow numbers fell 4,000 head but New York offset some of that reduction with a 2,000 head increase. Texas continued to expand it dairy cow population with a 3,000 head increase in December. This amounts to a 27,000 cow increase from twelve months earlier, a 5% increase. Colorado was the only other state to show a similar percentage increase from a year earlier. The two states with the largest dairy cow populations, California and Wisconsin, reduced cow numbers by less than one percent over the course of 2018. The smaller dairy cow herd at the start of 2019 points to the possibility of less milk production during the first three months of 2019 than a year ago. The half percent increase in milk cow productivity during the last quarter of 2018 matched up with a half percent decline in milk cows should result in milk production during the current quarter that is similar to the first quarter of 2018. LMIC is currently forecasting an increase of 0.2%. Dairy cow slaughter has remained larger than a year ago in the first few weeks of 2019, however, suggesting that a normal seasonal increase in the dairy herd during the first three months of the year may not occur. If this is the case, milk production during the January-March quarter could be less than a year ago.

The milk demand side of the market was a disappointment for much of 2018, but fluid milk product sales during the last quarter of the year were not down as much from the year prior as in the spring and summer quarters. Fluid milk product sales, on a volume basis, were down 0.9 percent from a year earlier during the October-December quarter. This compares with declines of 3% during the spring and summer quarters. Fluid milk product sales for all of 2018 were down 2% from 2017, similar to the decline that was seen from 2016 to 2017.

Wyatt Bechtel
Wed, 02/27/2019 – 07:57


Dairy (General)



News Article
Source: Dairy Herd