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On Cows and Markets

By E. W. Lang

Block cheese gained five cents this week, barrels gained seven while butter lost four.  Class III Future Prices ran from even to plus 40 cents in each of the forthcoming 16 months.  The range is from $17.60 in the nearby, to $16.30 during the winter, to $17.10 per cwt. a year from now.

The USDA Ag Prices Report just out shows that dairy farm-level margins were at a 20 month high during July.  The USDA announced all-milk price came to $18.70 per cwt., a 30 month high and $3.20 over one year prior.

Once corn, soy and hay values are figured in, dairy revenue over feed cost is either $10.04 or $9.27 per cwt., depending upon on whose analysis is correct.  I have two sources who don't agree on the number, and I'm unable to render a valid opinion on which figure is right as I read math at Iowa State University.

As such, there may or may not be a government subsidy on milk for July. The trigger point is $9.50 per cwt.

Fresh dairy cow prices at public auction were up just a little over the week with prices and activity called "stronger."  Top quality brought $1600 to $2000 on three dispersals at Premier in Withee, Wisc.  Slaughter cows were called "steady," and a couple Registered Holstein Bulls big enough for cows fetched $2150 under the gavel in that sale.

Grade Holstein heifers ready to breed sold from $400 to $675 per head, and sound like they would have been a good investment for someone. They should probably be bred Jersey or black Angus, however.

Hay in northeastern Iowa ran from $110 to $245 per ton on large squares of low to medium quality. Rounds sold from $105 to $170 on a similar quality range.

All eyes in the registered livestock industry will be on Copake, New York, this week as the internationally renown Cutting Edge Brown Swiss herd at Elite Dairy will go across the auction block.

Few breeding establishments in livestock history have achieved the success of Cutting Edge, and dispersed while at the top both genetically and phenotypically. There are 175 or so animals in the offering, and I expect the gross to total $1 million plus small change.   I'm guessing 60 head will generate half of the total, and include 40+ that will earn All-American honours over the next four or five years.  Another dozen future AA nominees will be among the lower priced young stock later in the the day.   

There is no seller-financed term-payment offering available in this sale.  Everything has to be paid for in full after the auctioneer says, "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen..."

That being the case,  for those of you who are regular dairy farmers and would like to be a part of this chapter in registered livestock history, there will be some very good values.  They will probably be later in the sale among the yearlings recently served, and among the heifers that aren't full-aged for show.  Those are the kind of purchases that dairy farmers can buy, enjoy owning, maybe take to a local show if a family member is interested, and make some money on over their herd life.  For those interested but unable to attend, information on buying in absentia can be found at

This DAT site includes auction staff contacts, and how to watch and participate on  If you would like a specific referral to sale personnel, feel free to message me.  Several of the gentlemen and women on staff are well suited to help you place a commercial order or to bid on individuals with your best interest in mind.


The author identifies as a farmer near Brooklyn, Iowa  
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