Monthly U.S. milk production was below year-ago levels for a fourth consecutive month in April, with cow numbers lower than a year earlier and output per cow unchanged.
Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

April 2021-22 recap at a glance

Reviewing the USDA preliminary estimates for April 2022 compared to April 2021:

  • U.S. milk production: 19.15 billion pounds, down 1%
  • U.S. cow numbers: 9.402 million, down 98,000 head
  • U.S. average milk per cow: 2,037 pounds, unchanged
  • 24-state milk production: 18.3 billion pounds, down 0.9%
  • 24-state cow numbers: 8.909 million, down 78,000 head
  • 24-state average milk per cow: 2,054 pounds, down 1 pound

Source: USDA Milk Production report, May 18, 2022

Cow numbers steady but revised

Preliminary April U.S. cow numbers were unchanged from March. However, March estimates were revised upward by 7,000 head from last month’s preliminary report and are up 35,000 head from January. April 2022 U.S. cow numbers are still down about 105,000 head from the peak in May 2021.

Among the 24 major dairy states, April cow numbers were also unchanged from March. As was the case with the U.S. total, March cow numbers in those states were raised 7,000 head from last month’s preliminary report. Since January, cow numbers increased by 35,000 head but remain 78,000 fewer than the May 2021 peak.


Compared to a year earlier (Table 1), April 2022 cow numbers were reported higher in just six states and lower in 17 states, with Idaho unchanged.

cow numbers

For a fifth consecutive month, it was South Dakota atop the year-over-year growth tables, up 25,000 head from April 2021, followed by Texas, up 23,000 head. Compared to a year earlier, cow number declines were heaviest in New Mexico, Michigan, Washington and Florida, down a combined 82,000 head.

Compared to a month earlier, Texas cow numbers increased by 3,000 head, with New Mexico down 3,000 head.

Dairy cull cow marketing slower

Dairy cull cow slaughter continues at a slower pace than a year ago. Through April 30, weekly slaughter in federally inspected plants totaled 1.11 head, about 38,200 head fewer than the same period a year earlier.

Milk per cow unchanged

Growth in milk production per cow continues to be stagnant, with the U.S. monthly milk output unchanged from year-ago April levels. Among the 24 major dairy states, output per cow was down 1 pound (Table 2).

average milk per cow

Year-over-year milk per cow increased in 10 states, led by Virginia, up 30 pounds per cow for the month. Lower output per cow occurred in six states, led by 20-pound declines in Florida and Washington.

Milk volume lower

With lower cow numbers and stagnant growth in milk per cow, overall milk production was down slightly in the U.S. and among major dairy states compared to a year earlier.

April 2022 year-over-year milk production was down in 16 states, led by declines of 92 million pounds in New Mexico. Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Washington, Michigan and New Mexico combined to cut milk output by 238 million pounds.

On a percentage basis, Florida and New Mexico milk production was down 12.1% and 12.9%, respectively, compared to April 2021.

Texas led all states in year-over-year milk volume growth, up 63 million pounds (4.7%). South Dakota led all states in year-over-year percentage milk growth, up 16.7% (48 million pounds).  end mark