Dairy Skim – October 2023 US Milk Production Report


Dairy Skim is a bite-size episode series where HighGround’s top analysts break down the latest dairy data release. Today, Betty Berning discusses the October 2023 US Milk Production Report. Customers can view the snapshot report here. Subscribe so that you never miss an episode!

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[00:05] Betty: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Dairy Skim, HighGround Dairy’s bite-sized podcast intended to give the dairy industry some flavor into recent reports or events that can impact global commodity pricing. This is Betty Berning, Contributing Dairy Economist at HighGround Dairy. The US October Milk Production is out and let’s dive into the numbers.

[00:30] Total US milk production fell 0.5% in October versus October 2022 and the US herd sat at 9.37 million head. Milk per cow was down one pound from last October. October 2022 actually had the highest milk yield on record so this October wasn’t awful.

[00:51] In the revisions, though, USDA increased September’s milk totals up 17 million pounds to 18.227 billion pounds, which is a bit contrary to all of the revisions to the downside that have come out in the last few months. Notably, September’s herd was taken up 6,000 head to 9.376 million cows. Milk per cow was also brought up one pound, making for a very small loss of two pounds between August and September.

[01:22] State-by-state, California’s milk production dropped 2.6% in October on smaller cow numbers and lower yields. The total milk production was down month-on-month as well. Typically, we would see volumes grow from September to October. Further, the October total of 1.873 billion pounds was the lowest for the month since 2018—five years ago!

[01:47] Idaho is also struggling. While cow numbers are up year-on-year in every month of this year, and sit at 664,000 head, yields have lost steam there. They have been down or flat for the past five months. September’s milk per cow was revised, taken down 10 pounds as well. October’s production in Idaho dropped by 1.4% to 1.339 billion pounds, logging the second consecutive month of a loss.

[02:19] New Mexico lost 5,000 head of cattle from September to October as total output there fell 9%. Milk per cow was also down a half-percent from October 2022 as the industry there undergoes structural change.

[02:35] Arizona’s volumes continued to remain above their other counterparts in the West and Southwest. September’s milk production was revised up a full two percentage points to reflect a 5.7% gain year-on-year in milk production on improved milk per cow. October also posted an increase—3.7%, relative to October 2022.

[03:04] Kansas has been adding cattle on a month-over-month basis with 4,000 head added since August. USDA lifted September’s total by 3,000 head. Still, cow numbers in 2023 are down from 2022, and total milk flows of 337 million pounds in October decreased 1.4% against the prior year.

[03:27] In the Central Region, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota have all increased milk volumes year-over-year in every single month of 2023. In October, Michigan and New York both posted 2% or more in increases.

Alright, these are the highlights. Stay tuned, HighGround subscribers, for our more detailed written report that will be coming soon. Have a great couple of days and I will join you back here on Wednesday for Cold Storage. Take care!

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