Milk production just keeps on chugging along.

Up, up and away
Dairy Herd Management magazine

During December, the top 23 dairy states pumped out 13.6 billion pounds of milk - up 4.2 percent versus a year ago, according to the December "Milk Production" report, released Jan. 18.

Milk production per cow was the driving force behind the 4-percent-plus gain. In the top 23 dairy states, milk per cow was up 3.4 percent in December versus a year ago. Per-cow output averaged 1,665 pounds for the month, or about 54 pounds per cow per day. The monthly average also represents a gain of 55 pounds versus December 2004. The table at right shows milk production per cow in each of the top 23 dairy states during December versus a year ago.

Meanwhile, the 23-state cow herd grew 0.8 percent during December versus a year ago. Cow numbers in the top 23 states totaled 8.16 million head - 67,000 head more than December 2004 and 4,000 head more than November 2005.

Three of the top 23 dairy states posted total milk-output gains in excess of 10 percent. Total milk output grew 13.8 percent in New Mexico, 12.3 percent in Texas and 10.9 percent in Idaho. Indiana posted a gain of 9.3 percent versus a year ago.

Four of the top 23 states posted losses. Florida and Kentucky took the largest hits - down 4.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

The USDA report also included fourth quarter 2005 milk production. U.S. milk output during October through December totaled 43.6 billion pounds - up 3.9 percent versus the same time period a year ago. The average number of milk cows in the U.S. during the quarter was 9.05 million head - 31,000 head more than fourth quarter 2004.

The USDA made a 1-million-pound downward revision to the November 23-state milk production. However, production still stands 4.6 percent higher than in November 2004.

Source: Dairy Herd Management, USDA