The Badger State’s dairy farmers posted three new records this past year — most new milk in the nation, the state’s highest-ever total milk production, and a new watermark for milk per cow. The most impressive, perhaps, is the fact Wisconsin led the nation in new milk production. It’s almost hard to fathom.

Percentages can sometimes conceal a major story. That definitely was the case in the Badger State as milk production rose 3.1% throughout the past year. However, that percentage gain was on 2020’s 30.7 billion-pound production base, and it yielded a 953 million-pound improvement in milk production throughout 2021.

The nearly 1 billion pounds of new milk came from a combination of 15,000 more cows and a major gain in milk per cow, which now stands at 24,884 pounds. In fact, it’s been generations since Wisconsin’s annual milk production per cow ranked among the top 10 in the nation. The 24,884 figure stands seventh nationally among all 50 states.

That’s how far Wisconsin has charged forward this past year.

Moved past the four-time champion

It took that massive gain from Wisconsin dairy farms to drop Texas into second place when ranked by the most new milk. Last year, Lone Star State farmers produced 744 million pounds of new milk.

Prior to 2021, Texas had led the nation in total new milk four straight years by averaging a 1 billion-pound annual gain from 2017 to 2020. When combined with last year’s results, Texas has added 4.8 billion pounds of new milk production in the past five years. If this new milk came from a fictitious, newly created 51st U.S. state, that state would rank No. 14 in milk production, moving past the currently ranked No. 14 Arizona.

For perspective on these milk totals, the U.S. dairy farmers produced 226.3 billion pounds of milk last year. The new 4.8 billion pounds of milk from Texas over the past five years accounts for 2% of the nation’s total milk production.

Moved past the four-time champion

When studying the final 2021 milk production data published by USDA in February’s Milk Production, Wisconsin produced a record 31.7 billion pounds of milk. That’s the highest total on record and the first time Wisconsin’s annual milk production moved past the 31-billion-pound threshold after reaching 30 billion pounds six years ago.

To review Wisconsin’s annual milk production totals from 1933 to 2021, go to this NASS webpage. And to fully consider just how much Wisconsin’s milk per cow has climbed, this dataset will reveal those totals.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2022
February 28, 2022
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