Milk Production

Milk Production

The Milk Production survey samples are selected from each state's list of dairy producers. The sample is randomly drawn from the list of milk producers. When feasible, NASS utilizes state or federal administrative data, rather than conducting a monthly or quarterly Milk Production survey, to estimate milk production and milk cow inventory.


NASS publishes a Milk Production report each month with total monthly milk production, milk produced per cow during the month, and average number of milk cows in the herd during the month for each of the 23 major milk producing States. U.S. level data are also estimated and published monthly. Each quarter, the Milk Production report includes quarterly production and inventory information by state for all states. The February report contains the previous year's annual totals. All reports are released around the middle of each month.

The number of dairy operations, percent of milk cow inventory, and percent of milk production by herd size are reported in the Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations release in February.

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Program Content

Monthly and quarterly Milk Production surveys collect information on the (1) number of cows milked yesterday, (2) number of all milk cows in the herd yesterday, and (3) total milk produced yesterday. Information on milk cow replacement prices are collected each quarter. In April and October, producers provide information on the amount of milk used on the farm for food or drink and the amount fed to calves.


Statistics on milk production are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to carry out the National Dairy Support Program. In addition, the statistics are used extensively by the dairy industry in planning, pricing, and projecting supplies of milk and milk products. Dairy producers also utilize the reports to determine production and marketing strategies.


The quarterly Milk Production survey is conducted in January, April, July, and October. The monthly Milk Production survey is conducted in all other months.


The Milk Production survey is mainly a mail survey. Questionnaires are mailed to a sample of dairy producers about the 24th of the month. States conduct a nonresponse telephone follow-up to ensure sufficient data are obtained.

Phone enumerators utilize Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI), a sophisticated software which allows them to enter reported data directly into an electronic format. The software performs simple consistency checks as well as checks against previously reported data, which reduces the need for follow-up contacts with the respondent.

Simple models are used to estimate for the states not in the monthly program. Milk cow estimates from the Cattle Inventory surveys provide an independent check against the milk production survey data.

Special Features

Annual estimates for Puerto Rico are included in the February Milk Production report and the April Milk Production, Disposition, and Income report even though Puerto Rico is not part of the Milk Production survey.

Related Programs

Milk Production, Disposition and Income
Monthly Dairy Products
Cattle Inventory
Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations

Last Modified: 11/09/2018