April milk production in the 23 major states, at 16.3 billion pounds, was up 1.2 percent year over year with 17 states posting increases. Some western states, except New Mexico, posted sizable increases, but most Midwest states continue to show year-over-year decreases, according to the National Agricultural Statistic Service.
April milk production was up 71 million pounds in Texas, an 8.7 percent increase; 56 million pounds in California, a 1.5 percent increase; 23 million pounds in Colorado, an 8.5 percent increase; 13 million pounds in Arizona, a 3.2 percent increase; and 12 million pounds in Idaho, a 1.1 percent increase.
Most of the Midwest, however is still struggling from delayed effects of a severe winter. Wisconsin, the No. 2 dairy state, was down for the sixth consecutive month. The state showed year-over-year decreases of 0.3 percent in April, 1.6 percent in March, 2.0 percent in February, 2.9 percent in January, 1.9 percent in December, and 0.6 percent in November.
Other Midwest states showing declines in April were Ohio, down 3.4 percent; Minnesota, down 2.7 percent; Illinois, down 2.4 percent; and Iowa, down 1.0 percent
The only Midwest states to show increases were Michigan, with a 2.6 percent increase, and South Dakota, with a 4.9 percent increase.
“We’re still dealing with forage quality from last year, but it’s not as big a deal” as the delayed effects of a harsh winter, said Robin Schmahl, commodity broker and owner of AgDairy LLC, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Rations have been balanced to compensate for lower forage quality pretty well, but the carryover affects of last winter are still in play. Cows lost weight with the severe weather, and producers are trying to increase production and put weight on the cows, he said.
In addition, cool, wet weather is slowing growth in pasture and hay. Last week still brought snow in the Upper Midwest, he said.
With warmer weather and drying fields, the Upper Midwest should see growth in pasture. That and new crop forage in the diet should put weight on cows and positively increase milk production ahead, he said.
But spring flush, which usually starts in April and peaks in mid-June, will be delayed one to two months, he said.
The region is seeing some expansion, with producers adding cows and facilities, and combined with better weather, recovering cows and new crop hay, production is expected to increase in the second half of the year, he said.
Schmahl also expects production growth out West, even in California, which is dealing with drought and water issues. Some California producers are drilling wells and reaching out to other states for hay. If those producers can get water, production will continue to grow, he said.
Texas didn’t have the water issues but it was really dry last year, yet posted substantial year-over-year growth in milk production, he said.