The total number of Wisconsin dairy farm operations has dropped below 10,000 for the first time in generations. Brad Legreid is executive director of Wisconsin Dairy Products Association. He said the decline in facilities is not that unusual.
For the past “50 or 60 years,” he said there’s been an annual decline of about 3,000 farms. “Just through natural attrition. Farmers retiring, maybe merging with other farmers.” He said, “Every year you see a drop that is occurring.”
When Legreid took the helm back in 1990, there were about 34,000 farms in the state. Now there are 9,929. Despite fewer farms, most are larger with more cows. And, milk production has increased. “Back in, say, like in 1990, the average size herd was probably around 40 head. Now it’s probably around 100 head,” he said, “and there are many farms that have around three-four-five-six-thousand cows.”
A record 27.7 billion pounds of milk was produced last year with more than 1.27 million milking cows, a record high.
Clark County has the highest number of dairy herds in Wisconsin with 872.