After eight months of contraction, the national herd finally showed signs of life and an increase of 3,000 head at the end of February. Hopefully this marks the end of the period of culling as farmers are gearing up for spring flush and improvements in yield in coming months. Milk production last month trailed February 2021 across the 24 largest producing states, but only by 0.7 percent, which is a vast improvement over the month the January.

As the herd starts to recover and heifers start producing more milk/cow/day, those factors should translate into steady gains and improvements in milk output. Milk yield was similar YOY with production per cow averaging 1,887 pounds of milk, a slight improvement over last year’s result. It will likely take many months for the herd to recover and climb back to the previous year’s level given that the total U.S. herd is 90,000 animals below this same time period year prior. High milk prices and positive trending herd figures should generate good incomes for dairy farmers in 2022.

In the wake of the encouraging milk production report, the cold storage report was released on Wednesday showing solid gains in stocks of butter and total natural cheese. Butter stocks surged by nearly 43 million lbs, climbing to just over 263 million lbs in cold storage. Although that figure is down 26 percent from February 2021, it is an increase of 20 percent from prior month and only lags the historic five-year average by -26 million lbs.

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Total U.S. dairy herd

Source: USDA
Posted by: Information Services
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