PA Dairy Overview

Pennsylvania is ranked 7th in total milk production nationally, with the commonwealth’s 482,000 cows producing nearly 10.3 billion pounds of milk annually. The state’s annual milk production per cow is 21,320 pounds – or about 2,508 gallons – per cow. The state has the second largest number of dairy farms nationally, having more dairy farms than every other state except Wisconsin.

Trends in Pennsylvania’s dairy industry:

  • The number of Pennsylvania dairy farms is declining. Currently, 5,430 dairy farms are located in Pennsylvania, down 5.2 percent from a year ago. This represents 15.9 percent of all dairy farms across the nation. Pennsylvania’s average herd size is about 89 cows, with 99 percent of all dairy farms in Pennsylvania family owned.
  • The number of cows in Pennsylvania continues to decrease. Cow numbers in 2020 averaged 482,000, 1.6% less than 2019. The dairy herd in the Commonwealth has been decreasing steadily for at least the last 10 years. In those 10 years, the state’s herd size has shrunk 11% or 59,000 head.
  • The state’s total milk production is increasing. During the past three years, Pennsylvania’s milk production has been steadily increasing, despite a decline in the total number of cows in the Commonwealth. In 2020, the state’s total milk production was 10.276 billion pounds, up 1.7% compared to 2019 with 8,000 less cows.
  • Milk per cow is increasing. With decreasing farm numbers and cow numbers, increased milk production per cow is driving the state’s milk production growth. Except for a slight dip in per cow production in 2018 milk production per cow has grown every year for at least the last 10 years. At 21,320 pounds per cow, milk production has grown over 9% since 2011. The average cow in Pennsylvania in 2020, produced 214 gallons more milk per year than she did in 2011.
  • The region’s market for milk is growing. Companies like Chobani’s and Coca-Cola are bringing more processing demand for raw milk to the Northeast dairy industry. However, milk processing infrastructure within Pennsylvania are aging. Finding incentives for companies to invest here in Pennsylvania will be essential throughout the next five years.

Creating a more favorable environment for Pennsylvania’s dairy farms will be critical to the industry’s ability to grow and meet increasing dairy demand, both domestically and across the seas.

Click here to view a visual snapshot of the economic benefits of Pennsylvania dairy.

To learn more about how to better support Pennsylvania’s dairy farms, contact the Center for Dairy Excellence at 717-346-0849 or email info@centerfordairyexcellence.org.