Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Does Dairy Size Matter?

The number of U.S. dairy farms continues to dwindle. In 2012, 1,960 or 3.8% of American dairy farms exited the industry. Today, there are 49,331 dairy farms in the U.S. down from 74,110 in 2002.

When examining farm size, people usually have questions. Are small farms family owned and larger farms owned by corporations? How are animals treated on small farms vs. large ones? Is the quality of milk produced different depending on farm size? Which size is best?

Dairy farm families share much in common, but we’re not all the same and that’s ok. Almost all U.S.
dairy farms are owned and operated by a family, regardless of size. Some dairy farms have been in a family for generations and for others the dairy tradition is just beginning. Dairy farms come in a variety of sizes and things like housing, feeding and herd health protocols may vary. But one thing most dairy farmers share in common is their fondness of caring for cows.

Some dairy farmers grow crops to feed their cows, some purchase all of their feed and others do a
combination of both. A few dairy farmers process their own products to sell retail and others have
incorporated agri-tourism. There is not one type of dairy farm that is best, we’re all an important part of milk production in this country. Dairy farms of all sizes are needed to provide people with the dairy products they want. Regardless of size, location or management practices, all dairy farmers have to follow the same milk quality standards to be Grade A producers. That insures consumers are getting a consistent, quality product when buying dairy at the grocery store.

Which states had the most dairy farms in 2012?

 Which states produced the most milk in 2012?

We’ve seen the largest dairy states in these graphs, but what about the smallest? The state with the fewest cows is Alaska with only 400 cows living on four dairy farms. The state with the fewest dairy farms is Hawaii with only two dairy farms that are home to a total of 2,000 cows.

The average dairy herd size in the U.S. is 187 milk cows. The state with the largest average herd size is New Mexico with 2,357 milk cows/herd and the smallest is Missouri averaging 66 milk cows/herd.

The 9,233,000 milk cows in this country produced 200,324 million pounds of milk in 2012. That’s an
average of 21,697 pounds or 2,523 gallons per cow per year.

Thank you for consuming dairy products! Each time do, you’re supporting a family farm like mine.


  1. Hey, where do you get this data? The first chart is not sourced, and there are no links.

    1. Here is a link to the source of this data http://www.progressivedairy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10303&Itemid=348.


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