Thursday, May 3, 2012

Atlantic Article on Dairy Advances

This is an interesting article. Big data!

In 1942, when my father was born, the average dairy cow produced less than 5,000 pounds of milk in its lifetime. Now, the average cow produces over 21,000 pounds of milk. At the same time, the number of dairy cows has decreased from a high of 25 million around the end of World War II to fewer than nine million today. This is an indisputable environmental win as fewer cows create less methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and require less land.
That meant that some bulls became incredibly sought after. The number two bull of the last century, Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief, had more than 16,000 daughters, 500,000 granddaughers, and 2 million great granddaughters. He's responsible for about 14 percent of all the genetic material in all Holsteins, USDA scientists estimate.
Bearish for milk prices, too. Real milk prices have fallen at least 60 percent over the past century. It is generally a bad idea to bet on commodity prices. The only exception is commodities selling for less than marginal cost of production, like our friend natural gas. It is good to buy free natural gas reserves, as well.

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