Farm Ireland

Saturday 26 May 2018

Over half of US dairy herds now milk over 900 cows

Dr Robert Johansson
Dr Robert Johansson
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

THE typical US dairy herd is now at 900 cows as expansion continues in the sector across the Continent.

Delegates at the ASA's annual conference heard that cow numbers continue to increase which, combined with increasing production per cow, is set to drive milk output to another record high over the coming 12 months.

While the USDA predicts that milk prices will increase slightly over the coming months, a more significant forecast is that dairy exports are expected to jump by a massive 44pc over the next 10 years.

With current exports equivalent to Ireland's entire milk output, this represents a significant development for one of the world's biggest milk producers.

"Looking at the linear progression of milk output per cow, it is set to rise from an average of 11,000kg to over 12,000kg over the next 10 years," said USDA chief economist, Dr Robert Johansson.

It mirrors the relentless increase in mean herd size that has increased tenfold in the last 20 years.

"Consolidation of herds is continuing with 'cow islands' developing around the country where there is more land and less regulatory restrictions.

"This has resulted in a general drift of cows into midwestern states away from urbanising areas," said Dr Johansson.

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Continued growth in milk output is likely to be partially driven by grain prices that are also predicted to remain low over the coming years by the USDA.

"Record yields of wheat are set to create an unprecedented carry-over of stocks, preventing prices increasing much over €121/t over the coming 12 months," said the economist.

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