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Milk production marches higher

Progressive Dairy Editor Dave Natzke Published on 22 April 2020

U.S. milk production rose in March before the full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak reached back to the farm.

March 2019-20 recap at a glance

Reviewing the USDA preliminary estimates for March 2020 compared to March 2019:



  • U.S. milk production: 19.26 billion pounds, up 2.2%
  • U.S. cow numbers: 9.38 million, up 47,000 head
  • U.S. average milk per cow per month: 2,053 pounds, up 34 pounds
  • 24-state milk production: 18.34 billion pounds, up 2.4%
  • 24-state cow numbers: 8.853 million, up 64,000 head
  • 24-state average milk per cow per month: 2,072 pounds, up 34 pounds

Source: USDA Milk Production report, April 21, 2020

February revised production at 17.03 billion pounds was up 1.9% (on a daily basis) from February 2019. The February revision represented a decrease of 7 million pounds or 0.1% from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Texas led all states in terms of milk volume and percentage growth in March 2020, up 102 million pounds (8.6%) from a year earlier. Idaho production was up 67 million pounds (5.2%). Only Florida, Vermont, Wisconsin and Arizona produced less milk than the same month a year earlier.

Cow numbers increase

Cow numbers continue to increase in the first quarter of 2020. Nationally, March cow numbers were up 47,000 from the year before and up 5,000 head from February 2020. The February 2020 cow number estimate was also raised by 5,000 head from last month’s preliminary estimate.

In the 24 major dairy states, March 2020 cow numbers were up 64,000 head from March 2019 and up 5,000 from February 2020. February 2020 cows numbers were raised by 6,000 head from last month’s preliminary estimate.


Since bottoming out in June, U.S. cow numbers are up 69,000 head in the 24 major dairy states. Since July’s low, U.S. cow numbers are up 65,000 head.

Compared to a year earlier, cow numbers are up a combined 63,000 in Texas, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico but 28,000 lower in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Arizona (Table 1).

042120 natzke milk number tbl1

Milk per cow higher

Compared to a year earlier, daily milk output per cow increased about 2 pounds or more in six states, led by Pennsylvania and Virginia. Only Florida, Oregon and New Mexico posted declines (Table 2).  end mark

042120 natzke pounds tbl2

Dave Natzke
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