America's dairy industry shrank again in 2010 in terms of both cow and farm numbers, yet produced more milk, according to data released last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Closer scrutiny of those numbers produces this snapshot of the industry:
• There were 53,127 licensed dairies in the U.S. in 2010, a decline of 1,805 from the previous year. The largest declines occurred in Wisconsin (-460), Minnesota (-160), Missouri (-110), California (-110), New York (-100) and Iowa (-100).
• Average U.S. dairy herd size was 172 cows, an increase of two from the previous year. The largest average herd sizes were in New Mexico (2,293), Arizona (1,609), Nevada (1,120) and California (1,026).
• Total U.S. cow numbers were 9.117 million head, a decline of 86,000 from the previous year and the second yearly decline in a row.
• Total U.S. milk production rose to a new all-time high of 192.8 billion pounds, an increase of nearly 3.5 billion pounds from the previous year.
• Average U.S. milk production per cow rose to a new all-time high of 21,149 pounds per cow, an increase of 576 pounds from the previous year. New Mexico had the highest production average of all states at 24,551 pounds, followed by Colorado, Washington, and Arizona which were all over 23,000 pounds.
• The average dairy in the U.S. produced 3.63 million pounds of milk in 2010, or 9,943 pounds per day. With both the largest herds and the highest production per cow, New Mexico dairies also produced the most milk by far – an average of 56.3 million pounds or 154,224 pounds per day.