Fewer cows but more milk through 2020

A line chart showing U.S. dairy herd and milk production per cow, years 1985 to 2000.

After a 4-year increase during 2005-08, milk cow numbers fell in 2009 and 2010 and are projected to continue year-to-year declines in 2012-20. Milk production is projected to continue rising in 2012-20, as continued technological and biological developments increase milk output per cow. Cow numbers decline at lower rates toward the end of the 2012-20 projection period as the transition in most regions from smaller, diversified farms to larger, specialized dairy operations matures. This chart appeared in the June 2011 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

Download larger size chart (500 pixels by 355, 96 dpi)