California leads US in milk production in 2015

Holstein dairy cattle grazing
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — U.S. milk production was up in 2015 over the previous year, but dairymen’s returns were down a staggering 28.5 percent below 2014. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, nationally, milk production increased 1.3 percent in 2015 to 209 billion pounds.

The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.32 million head, up 60,000 head from 2014. Average production per cow, at 22,393 pounds, was 134 pounds above 2014.

Income crashed

But, the USDA report, released in April, showed cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2015 totaled $35.7 billion, 27.6 percent lower than 2014. Nationally, producer returns averaged $17.21 per hundredweight, 28.5 percent below 2014.

Marketings totaled 207.7 billion pounds, 1.3 percent above 2014. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

California’s happy cows

California leads the nation in the number of milk cows and production, with 1.77 million cows producing 40.9 billion pounds of milk (used and marketed by producers), with an average production of 23,002 pounds per cow.

Wisconsin, with 1.28 million cows, earned the No. 2 spot, with total production of 28.8 billion pounds.

Rounding out the top 10 milk-producing states were: third, Idaho; fourth, New York; fifth, Pennsylvania; sixth, Texas; seventh, Michigan; eighth, Minnesota; ninth, New Mexico; and 10th, Washington.

Pennsylvania milk production increased 1 percent in 2015 to 10.8 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 20,387 pounds, was 266 pounds above 2014.

Ohio is ranked 11th, with total production of 5,268 million pounds. The state had an average of 267,000 milk cows in 2015.


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