The leap year brought both reduced cow numbers and less milk per cow to the month of February.

According to the USDA’s February “Milk Production” report, milk output in the top-20 dairy states totaled 11.4 billion pounds during February —1.8 percent less than February 2003. The USDA arrived at these figures after adjusting for the additional day in February due to the leap year. Without accounting for that additional day, milk production in the top-20 dairy states came to 11.8 billion pounds — a 1.7-percent gain compared to year-earlier levels.

The USDA report, released March 16, also reported an 11-million-pound reduction in January milk output. Because of the revision, milk production across the top-20 dairy states stood at 12.5 billion pounds during January — down 1 percent versus a year ago.

During February, milk output per cow averaged 1,478 pounds — down 11 pounds for the month, or 0.7 percent less than February 2003. That also is about 51 pounds per cow per day. Without accounting for the extra day in February, milk per cow averaged 1,531 pounds for the month — 42 pounds more than a year ago, the USDA reports.

Cow numbers also retracted during February versus a year ago. Cow numbers totaled 7.72 million head during the month — 91,000 head less than a year ago, but 4,000 head more than January. The table at right shows cow numbers in the top-20 dairy states during February versus a year ago.

Of the states that experienced a decline in milk yield, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Missouri faired the worst — down 7.7 percent, 7.5 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively. Those figures account for the leap-year adjustment. Of the top-dairy states that saw gains in milk output, Texas, Idaho and New Mexico posted the largest gains — up 7.5 percent, 4 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Again, those figures reflect the leap-year adjustment.