August 12, 2019

Here's Where The Biggest Dairies Are Located

Top Story  |   |  By: Mike Opperman

For the first time, the 2017 Ag Census conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides data on dairies with more than 5,000 cows. 

California and Idaho are tied with the most dairies with more than 5,000 cows, with Texas listed at 25. Wisconsin and Minnesota each have 9 and 8 of the +5,000-cow dairies, respectively.

Often dairies with large numbers of cows have multiple sites. On the Ag Census questionnaire, producers were asked to report all cattle and calves “on this operation”, according to Mike Miller with the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. So it depends what the operator considers to be “this operation”.  

“If the operator of a large farm with multiple sites considers all the sites to be part of one operation, the Census questionnaire for that operation should include the data for all the sites,” Miller says. “However, operations with multiple sites are often maintained separately on our list of farm operators, depending on how the operator wants to report the data.  In these situations, a questionnaire will usually be completed for each site.”

In order to prevent disclosure of data for individual operations, data for large dairies is only available at the state, not county, level.

For information on counties with the most dairy cows, click here.

Following are maps showing where dairies are located within three different herd size categories:
States with dairies with 1,000 to 2,500-cow herds


States with dairies with 2,500 to 5,000-cow herds



States with dairies that have more than 5,000 cows