Milk production in 2008 a mixed bag

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WASHINGTON — USDA projects 2007-2008 corn and soybean meal prices at $3.70 to $4.30 per bushel and $305 to $335 per ton, respectively.

According to the Jan. 18 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, the higher feed prices, coupled with expected continuing tight supplies of alfalfa hay, have pushed the expected milkfeed price ratio below 2.5 for most of 2008.

Dairy cow slaughter for January 2007 through November 2007 is slightly ahead of the same period for 2006, according to December’s livestock slaughter report.

Replacements

Replacement heifer prices remain relatively high, and imports from Canada are brisk. This suggests freshening of the herd, which would boost feed productivity and lower unit costs.

Forecast 2008 cow numbers are reduced slightly in the last half of 2008.

Moreover, higher feed prices could slow the growth in milk per cow by the second half of 2008. The lowered average age of the dairy herd should help the leading producers persevere against higher feed costs.

USDA projects 2008 milk production at 190 billion pounds, up 2.3 percent from 2007’s expected production.

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