Tulare County, Calif., retains the distinction of having the most milk cows of any county in the nation.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture, Tulare County had 412,462 milk cows as of Dec. 31, 2002. That beat the next-highest county by nearly 200,000.

Conducted every five years by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Census of Agriculture attempts to reach every agricultural operator in America through a mail survey. Follow-ups by telephone or personal interview are conducted for those who do not respond by mail.

The 10 counties with the most milk cows were:

  1. Tulare (Calif.) – 412,462
  2. Merced (Calif.) – 223,303
  3. Stanislaus (Calif.) – 162,878
  4. San Bernardino, (Calif.) – 158,240
  5. Kings (Calif.) – 138,292
  6. Maricopa (Ariz.) – 126,078
  7. Gooding (Idaho) – 115,026
  8. Lancaster (Pa.) – 107,591
  9. San Joaquin (Calif.) – 103,534
  10. Fresno (Calif.) – 90,550

USDA