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California counties lead in milk cow numbers

Carol Ryan Dumas
California had 4 of the top five counties for dairy cow numbers in 2012, and Idaho had one county in the top five, accoding to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

California’s Tulare County had the top milk cow inventory in the nation in 2012 with 489,436 head, according to the final 2012 Census of Agriculture, released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Those cows were on 244 farms, with sales of $1.8 billion.

California’s Merced County came in second in cow numbers, with 285,235 cows on 230 farms, with sales of $1.1 billion. The state’s Stanislaus County came in third with 179,617 cows on 22 farms, with sales of $706 million.

Idaho’s Gooding County ranked fourth in the nation for milk cow numbers with 178,661 cows on 61 farms, with sales of $733 million.

Kings County in California placed fifth with 168,494 cows on 122 dairies, with sales of $625 million.

California was the top dairy states with 1.82 million cows on 1,554 dairy farms in operation in 2012, with total sales of $6.945 billion, according to the census.

Idaho ranked fourth with about 579,000 cows on 637 dairies, with total sales of $2.333 billion.

Wisconsin was the second ranked dairy state with 1.3 million cows, 11,295 dairy farms and $4.952 billion in sales.

New York ranked third with 610,712 cows on 4,866 farms with sales of $2.417 billion. Pennsylvania was fifth with 532,335 cows on 7,048 farms with sales of $1.967 billion.

Nationwide, dairy cows numbered 9.25 million on 64,098 farms in 2012, with sales of $35.5 billion. Of those, operations specializing in dairy production (50 percent or more of their sales coming from milk) had 8.89 million cows on 46,005 farms with sales of $34.5 billion in 2012.

In 2007, there were 9.27 million dairy cows on 69,890 farms, with sales of $31.8 billion. Of those, operations specializing in dairy production had 8.92 million cows on 57,318 farms with sales of $30.9 billion in 2012.



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