Livestock Productivity Soars Over Past 25 Years

Better genetics, feed and management have allowed dairy productivity to soar. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

Since 1993, the productivity gains in U.S. agriculture have been, well, pretty astounding. Hog productivity has shot up 68% while gains in dairy and broilers have risen 44% and 43%, respectively.

Beef production has jumped 17% and egg production, 13%, reports Carl Zulauf, an economist with Ohio State University.

“At its simplest, productivity increases when more output is produced using the same foundation herd or when the same output is produced with a smaller foundation herd,” says Zulauf. “Dairy illustrates the former as more production is coming from a foundation herd that has changed little. Beef illustrates the latter as about the same production is coming from a smaller foundation herd.”

He notes that between 1993-1997 and 2014-2018, the U.S. dairy herd has shrunk 4% but production has climbed 38%. According to USDA data, in 1993, there were 9.7 million dairy cows producing an average of 15,554 lb of milk. In 2018, there were 9.4 million cows producing an average of 23,173 lb of milk.

Hog producers have also had a similar ascent in productivity. In 1993, they were saving 8.25 pigs per litter. Last year, that number had climbed to 10.7, a 30% increase in pig numbers alone.

You can read the full report here.