Reports in January presented milking herd numbers at the close of 2022. Although milk yield showed a slight improvement with a seasonal upswing to nearly 65 pounds of milk per cow per day, the national herd fell by 8,000 head from the previous month. The herd finished the year at 9.4 million cows after falling slightly in the past two months.
Though 2022 did end up 37,000 heifers from December 2021, falling dairy prices and a slight herd contraction early in 2023 do not bode well for further expansion through spring flush. That said, the herd seems to have peaked with an end to this phase of producer expansion. And though total milk output was up a fraction of a percent last year, the new year started with sufficient milk supply.
The cold storage report was also published this past week, showing that 2022 ended with 216 million pounds of butter in cold storage, up 8.5 percent or 17 million pounds from November. This was the second-highest annual carryout in over 20 years, suggesting that persistently high butter prices have definitely eroded demand.
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