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Markets Scream for More Milk

The markets are screaming at dairy producers to make more milk, but there are formidable barriers to expansion. Producers who have relied on extra heifers from their neighbors or the latest dispersal auction find they are increasingly scarce and expensive. At last week’s monthly auction in Pipestone, Minnesota, the top 25 springers ranged from $2,550 to $2,900 per head. But with Class III milk near $20 per cwt., many producers are paying what they must to keep the barn full. They’re also keeping lower-end milk cows in the herd for longer, which could weigh on national average milk yields. Slaughter volumes have been depressed since September, but in the first two weeks of May – when Class III prices pushed convincingly over $19 for the first time – cull rates dropped even further. The decline is especially impressive because it is accelerating even as avian influenza forces some producers to send a portion of their herds to the packer after the infection has run its course. The bird flu is circulating in Idaho and the Great Lakes states, boosting cull rates and curtailing milk production in these major milk sheds.




May 28, 2023

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