It's no surprise that 2014’s strong milk prices and moderating feed prices resulted in dairy herd expansion.

USDA released its semi-annual Cattle report on Jan. 30, including survey-based estimates of U.S. dairy cows, replacement heifers and heifers expected to calve within the next year.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, milk cows during the previous year were estimated at 9.307 million head, up 99,300 head (1%) from Jan. 1, 2014, and the highest Jan. 1 total since 2009.

Dairy replacement heifers (>500 lbs.), at 4.615 million head, were up 66,700 head from a year ago, and about equal to the total on Jan. 1, 2012. 

Based on those estimates, there were 49.6 heifers >500 lbs. per 100 cows as of Jan. 1, 2015, up about 0.2 heifer/100 cows from 2014’s revised estimate.

Of those total dairy replacement heifers, 2.997 million head are expected to calve in 2015, up 30,500 from 2014. As of Jan. 1, 2015, there were 32.2 replacements expected to calve in 2015 for every 100 cows currently in the U.S. herd, about the same as a year ago.

USDA’s semi-annual Cattle report includes both beef and dairy cattle inventory estimates, based on January 2015 surveys of abut 38,200 livestock operations across the U.S.

U.S. dairy cows and heifers, Jan. 1, 2014-2015

 

Milk cows that calved (1,000 head)

 

Dairy heifers 500 lbs. & over (1,000 head)

 

Percent of  previous year (%)

 

2014

2015

2014

2015

Alabama

9

8

89

4

3

Alaska

0.3

0.3

100

0.1

0.1

Arizona

192

195

102

74

65

Arkansas

8

7

88

5

4

California

1,780

1,780

100

750

750

Colorado

140

145

104

100

100

Connecticut

19

19

100

9

8

Delaware

4.7

5

106

2.6

2.5

Florida

123

124

101

35

35

Georgia

80

81

101

25

25

Hawaii

2.2

2.2

100

1

1

Idaho

565

579

102

270

300

Illinois

95

94

99

45

50

Indiana

178

181

102

68

78

Iowa

205

210

102

120

130

Kansas

136

143

105

100

80

Kentucky

68

63

93

45

45

Louisiana

15

14

93

5

5

Maine

30

30

100

17

16

Maryland

50

50

100

25

24

Massachusetts

12

12.5

104

7.5

7

Michigan

381

403

106

164

167

Minnesota

460

460

100

280

280

Mississippi

13

12

92

6

6

Missouri

90

89

99

50

60

Montana

14

14

100

9

7

Nebraska

53

54

102

20

20

Nevada

29

28

97

9

9

N. Hampshire

13.5

14

104

7

5.5

New Jersey

7

7

100

3

3.8

New Mexico

323

323

100

120

105

New York

615

615

100

355

350

North Carolina

45

47

104

20

18

North Dakota

17

16

94

10

6

Ohio

267

268

100

130

125

Oklahoma

45

40

89

20

25

Oregon

124

125

101

60

60

Pennsylvania

530

530

100

315

305

Rhode Island

0.9

0.9

100

0.5

0.5

South Carolina

16

15

94

6

5

South Dakota

95

98

103

50

65

Tennessee

46

47

102

30

25

Texas

440

470

107

220

240

Utah

95

96

101

46

48

Vermont

132

132

100

56

56

Virginia

93

93

100

40

43

Washington

266

277

104

125

133

West Virginia

9

9

100

5

4

Wisconsin

1,270

1,275

100

680

710

Wyoming 

6

6

100

4

5

United States

9,207.60

9,306.90

101

4,548.70

4,615.40

(Heifers expected to calve during 2015)

2,966.70

2,997.20

Source: USDA National Ag Statistics Service, Jan. 30, 2015