Maybe we shouldn't have been too surprised with the February Milk Production report released last Thursday. After all, milk production in January had been down just 0.5 percent compared to a year earlier. Plus, the 23 top dairy states actually had 4,000 MORE cows in January than in December. The recent report showed that milk output in February was 0.1 higher than a year ago, and that the top states had another 3,000 more cows. That was not much of a rise in milk. But considering all that our industry has been through, many would think that cow numbers and milk production still should be going down.

The big driver of more milk this winter has been higher milk per cow. This especially was evident among states in the Upper Midwest which had one of the coolest summers on record last year. For example, cows in Wisconsin produced 5.3 percent more milk in February than they did a year ago.

Among the top 23 states, cow numbers were down 168,000 head (nearly 2 percent) in February. However, milk per cow in those states was up just over 2 percent. Nationally, the estimated cow count was 9.088 million head, which was down 201,000 or 2.2 percent from February 2009.

California continued its drop in milk production being down 1.6 percent. There were 65,000 or 3.6 percent fewer cows there. With its big jump in milk per cow, Wisconsin was up 5.7 percent in total milk production. Wisconsin had 5,000 more cows than a year ago. Among other Upper Midwest states, Michigan was up 3.5 per cent in milk and Minnesota was up 1.4 percent.

Seven states were down at least 5 percent in total milk output during February. They were Arizona (-6.8 percent), Colorado (-8.3), Florida (-5.0), Kansas (-6.8), Missouri (-9.8), New Mexico (-5.0), and Texas (-5.4). Most of these states were down mostly due to significant declines in cow numbers.

Click here to see the report