USDA reported this afternoon that U.S. milk production was up 4.2% over a year ago, and up 5.2% in the first quarter of 2012 over the same January through March period of last year.
Cow numbers continue to build. The average number of dairy cows in the first quarter was 9.25 million, up 86,000 head over the first quarter of 2011. March cow numbers totaled 9.266 million head, up 86,000 cows (0.9%) over a year ago.
The strongest surge in milk production continues to come from the West. Utah was up 7.8%; Colorado, +7.1%, Arizona, +6.6%, California, 6.2%; Texas, +5.7% and New Mexico, +5.3%. In sheer volume, California was up 221 million lb. in March. This increase mirrors Vermont’s total monthly output.
The Eastern Corn Belt also showed a strong growth in March, with Michigan up 7.3%, Illinois, +5.4%, and Indiana, +5.2%. Pennsylvania was the only state among the top 23 that showed a production decline, down 0.6%. Cow numbers in the Keystone State were also down 3,000 head (0.6%).