Linda McKusick /

Analysis Milk production

US milk production sees surge in February thanks to leap year milk

March 22, 2024 - By our team of market reporters

The US milk production in February this year was considerably higher than the same month a year ago. According to USDA reports, there was a year-on-year increase of 2.4% to 17.36 million pounds (equivalent to 7.87 million tons) across the 24 largest dairy-producing states in the US.

While January 2024 production lagged 1% behind the previous year, February appears to be performing better at first glance. It is noteworthy that February's milk production this year is relatively higher than in recent years. For instance, February 2021 saw production at 7.67 million tons, February 2022 at 7.6 million tons, February 2023 at 7.7 million tons, and this year at 7.9 million tons.

The reason for this is the leap year, which provided an extra production day in February, making the comparison uneven. USDA even reports that after adjusted calculations, the average daily production in February 2024 was 1.1% lower than the previous year. The number of dairy cows in the 24 largest dairy-producing states was 8.89 million in February 2024, 61,000 fewer cows than in February 2023.

This translates to an average production per cow in February 2024 of 886.8 kilograms in the 24 largest US dairy-producing states, which is over 26 kilograms more than February 2023. Despite the slightly reduced dairy herd, production per cow was higher.

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