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How serious is the oversupply of milk?

May 4, 2020

Katelyn Allen

How much has your dairy processing plant or co-op asked your dairy farm or your clients to cut back milk shipments?

Seventy-two percent of the over 150 farmers and farm consultants that responded to that poll question during the April 29 live episode of Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream said they were being asked to reduce production in some amount.

The specific breakdowns:

  • 30% of respondents reported they are being asked to reduce production between 6% and 10%

  • 27% of producers said their processing plant or co-op is asking for 11% to 15% less milk

  • 7% must reduce production more than 15%

  • 28% of respondents are not being asked to reduce production at this time

These numbers illustrate the real problem facing the majority of American dairymen and women. Selling less product is not a part of any business plan and doing so requires considerable reworking. Making decisions on where and how to make cuts are complicated choices.

That decision-making thought process was the focus of the April 29 DairyLivestream. Cornell University Extension Associate Jason Karszes and the University of Illinois’ Mike Hutjens delivered the “how” and “what” on implementing management changes. To read about their recommendations, check out the program summary.

Herd changes vary Framing their discussion was another poll of the audience: If your farm is being asked to reduce production, which management changes are you considering or even using in combination with others? Audience members could select more than one option.

To immediately eliminate some milk:

  • 70% of farmers said they are drying cows off early

  • 67% are culling cows more heavily

As to less extreme measures that maintain herd size:

  • 63% mentioned changing their ration

  • 38% plan to drop from 3x milking to 2x

  • 14% of respondents said they aren’t reducing production but rather are moving milk around — for example, feeding it back to calves or cows or spreading it on fields

“Timeliness” and “targeting” of an appropriate plan is most important in making a good decision, said Hutjens. To hear the rest of the broadcast, including business and market insights from regular panelists Chris Wolf and Mark Stephenson, visit the archived recording.

An ongoing series of events “Co-ops, customers, and COVID-19” will be the focus of the May 6 DairyLivestream. As always, the panel of experts will discuss over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register. Registering for previous broadcasts registers you for every week.



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