Milk production grew 2 percent during June compared to year-ago levels — much to the surprise of market analysts who were predicting closer to a 3 percent gain.

Milk production in the top 20 dairy states totaled 12.3 billion pounds during June, according to the USDA’s June “Milk Production” report.

The USDA also revised May milk production, decreasing it 0.2 percent, or 25 million pounds, from its preliminary estimate released during June. May revised milk production stands at 13 billion pounds — 3 percent above May 2001 output.

Second quarter milk production, also included in the report, totaled 44 billion pounds — 3 percent above second quarter milk production during 2001. Cow numbers during April, May and June averaged 9.15 million head — an increase of 33,000 head compared to the same time period a year ago.

Milk output per cow — at 1,579 pounds for the month, or about 53 pounds per cow per day — did not show stellar performance during June. Still, the monthly average is 24 pounds more milk per cow than June 2001.

Among the top 20 states, New Mexico, Arizona and Ohio led the nation in milk production gains during June — climbing 14.4 percent, 7 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Missouri, Minnesota and Kentucky took the greatest hit in milk production during June — down 5.3 percent, 5.2 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Total milk production for the top 20 dairy states is shown in the table below.

Cow numbers continue to grow. The 20-state cow herd totaled 7.78 million head during June — 16,000 head more than May and 29,000 head more than June 2001.