Livestock Marketing Information Center

Current Situation and Analysis
Last Updated: 8/15/2017
DAIRY COW HERD MAINTAINS SLOW, STEADY EXPANSION

The US milk cow herd has expanded by 50,000 head from last December to this June.  Each month has registered a small gain, the biggest coming in March with an 18,000 head increase.  The latest reported month, June, had the smallest increase of only 4,000 cows.  Milk production during the April-June quarter was up 1.8% from a year earlier, boosted by a 1.0% improvement in milk cow productivity.  Texas accounted for half the increase in cow numbers.  New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah herd expansion added another 21,000 head.  Outside of this region, only New York (up 4,000 cows) posted


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HAY PRODUCTION DOWN SLIGHTLY FROM LAST YEAR

USDA-NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) estimated this year’s hay harvest at 132.6 million tons based on crop conditions as of August 1, down 2% from last year.  The estimate of area harvested was unchanged from the figure shown in their June acreage report and only up a fraction of a percent from last year.  Alfalfa hay harvest volume is down 3.6% from last year, even though area harvested expanded 1.3%.  All other hay production is close to unchanged from last year. Both area and average yield of other hay were changed by less than a percent from last year.


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MID-AUGUST PLAINS STATES RANGE AND PASTURE CONDITIONS IMPROVING

The weekly crop conditions index published by USDA-NASS started to indicate some easing of drought conditions in the Plains states as of mid-August.  In the Northern Plains, pastures rated very poor declined from 21% to 18% from the prior week, the lowest percentage since mid-July.  Pastures rated in good condition moved up to 30% from 28%, also the best since mid-July.  In Oklahoma and Texas, 13% of the pastures were rated poor or very poor, down from 18% the prior week.  Pastures rated good or excellent accounted for 49% of the total compared to 41% a week earlier.  In the same week a ye


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