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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Number Of Dairy Herds In Virginia Continues To Decline

Dairy Pipeline: November 2008

Charlie Stallings, Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition & Forage Quality
(540) 231-3066,

We monitor the number of Grade A dairy herds reported by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) twice a year and report it under our Extension program VTDAIRY web site: The latest report was in September 2008 with 708 herds. The top five counties were Rockingham (245 herds), Franklin (63), Augusta (51), Fauquier (29), and Wythe (22). We do not get cow numbers with this report from VDACS but the USDA figures from February 2008 indicated 98,000 cows were in Virginia and there are 9.248 million milking cows in the United States. Many of you will remember when Virginia had more than 1000 herds. As herds decrease in number the number of cows do not decrease at the same rate because they are many times incorporated into existing herds with a resulting increase in herd size. In fact with increased production per cow the amount of milk produced in Virginia has not changed markedly. The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System reported in March 2008 from a survey in 2006 that in the United States, 46.7% of cows are in herds of 500 cows or greater and this makes up only 4.2% of herds. This has changed from 38.3% of cows in 2002. This documents the change in herd sizes nationally and especially in the west with Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Idaho having the largest herd sizes nationally. Virginia will continue to produce milk but more in pockets where human population growth is not an issue. Also herd sizes will likely continue to increase..

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