Trends in U.S. Agriculture

Livestock and Dairy

The dairy industry provides another example of significant production increases achieved during the past century. Cows milked were at the century’s high in 1944, when an average 25.6 million head produced 117 billion pounds of milk. Since then, the number of cows has steadily dropped. Less than 20 million head were milked in 1957 and in 1990 the average number fell to less than 10 million.

Conversely, annual average production per cow has risen dramatically. Annual production per cow was 4,572 pounds in 1944. The average exceeded 5,000 pounds per cow for the first time in 1947 and 6,000 pounds was topped in 1956. The first 10,000 pound average was achieved in 1971 and 17,000 pounds per cow was reached at the end of the century.

Significant increases in production and value of production also took place in other areas of the livestock industry, such as for cattle, hogs, and particularly broilers.

Last Modified: 12/04/2017