For back-to-back years, U.S. milk output rose by a remarkably uniform 1.8 percent. However, unlike 2010 when higher production gains fell solely on improved milk per cow, the nation's dairy herd expanded by 75,000 head or 0.8 percent last year. That marks the first expansion in cow numbers since 2008, the USDA estimated in year-end statistics released in late February. Among the top 10 dairy states, Texas passed Minnesota to take seventh place. This also marks the sixth straight year that New Mexico has paced the country in milk per cow at 24,854. Washington is firmly in second place.
which will appear in the March 10, 2012 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.