The USDA’s February “Milk Production” report was nothing short of electrifying.

Undaunted by falling milk prices, February milk output advanced 5.9 percent in the top 23 dairy states, according to the agency report, released March 17. Milk production totaled 13 billion pounds for the month in those states.

Unseasonably mild weather set the stage for a 4.3-percent gain in milk production per cow in the top 23 dairy states. Per-cow output averaged 1,588 pounds during the month, or about 57 pounds per cow per day. The monthly average also represents a gain of 66 pounds versus February 2005.

Strong growth in cow numbers also fanned the flame. The 23-state cow herd grew 1.5 percent during February versus a year ago. Cow numbers in the top 23 states totaled 8.21 million head — up 121,000 head versus a year ago and 10,000 head more than January. The table at right shows cow numbers in each of the top 23 dairy states during February versus a year ago.

Milk production gains exceeded 10 percent in three of the top 23 dairy states during February. Those states included New Mexico, up 17.2 percent; Texas, up 15.2 percent, and Colorado, up 10.5 percent. Production losses hit Florida and Kentucky the hardest, down 5.9 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

The USDA report also showed a slight upward revision in January milk production. During January, the top 23 dairy states produced 14 billion pounds, up 5.5 percent versus January 2005, instead of the 5.4 percent estimate reported during February.

USDA