Milk Production

Milk Production

The Milk Production survey uses samples selected randomly from each state's list of dairy producers to estimate milk production and milk cow inventory. When feasible, NASS also utilizes state, federal, or other administrative data.


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. The reports are usually released around the 19th of each month.

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Program Content

Quarterly Milk Production surveys collect information on (1) number of cows milked, (2) number of all milk cows in the herd, and (3) total milk produced on the first of the survey month. In addition, NASS collects information on replacement prices for milk cows. 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.


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


In January, April, July, and October, NASS conducts the Milk Production survey.


The Milk Production survey is mainly a mail survey. A sample of dairy producers receive questionnaires sent about the 24th of each month. To ensure sufficient data are collected, NASS conducts a nonresponse telephone follow-up.

Phone enumerators utilize Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI), a sophisticated software allowing 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. Milk cow estimates from the Cattle surveys, conducted in January and July, provide an independent check for comparison with the Milk Production survey data.

For large operations or those with special handling arrangements, NASS conducts a limited number of personal interviews.

Related Programs

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

Last Modified: 05/04/2018