The Nation’s dairy herd continues to contract on a year-over-year basis. However, milk per cow continues to rise incrementally. The April Milk Production report indicated that milk per cow was 51 pounds (lbs) higher in March compared with a year ago. Moderating feed prices for 2009/10 and the prospect of continued moderate feed prices into the next crop year have provided an incentive to increase output. However, lower milk prices have kept the milk-feed profitability ratio below 2.5. A milk-feed price ratio above 2.5 is considered necessary to begin any expansion. Although the U.S. dairy herd continues to decline, the rate of decline appears to be moderating. The March Livestock Slaughter report showed 223,000 dairy cows laughtered under Federal inspection in February, the second lowest total since last May. Meanwhile, producers added 3,000 cows in both January and February. For 2010, the U.S. dairy herd is expected to average 9,065,000 cows, a 1.5 percent decline from 2009, but somewhat higher than recent USDA estimates. Output per cow is projected at 20,950 lbs resulting in a forecast 189.9 billion lbs of milk in 2010.
The fact is, milk production is subject to revision and the milk per cow and number of cows is outright fiction.