Missouri Dairy Industry Snapshot

Missouri's State Ranking

  • Number of Cows: 24th
  • Total Milk Production: 26th
  • Milk Production per Cow: 43rd

Dairy cows are located throughout Missouri. However, the Missouri milk cow population tends to concentrate in the state's southwest and south central regions. In 2017, the five Missouri counties with the largest dairy cow inventories were Newton, Wright, Webster, Lawrence, and Polk counties, though some counties were not reported by USDA to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.

Milk Cow Inventory by County (2017)


The Missouri dairy cow inventory has decreased over time. Since 2010, however, the inventory reductions have slowed. In 2016, Missouri farms maintained 88,000 milk cows. Many nearby states such as Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee have reduced their dairy cattle inventories over the past two decades. Iowa has generally stayed level over time, while Kansas has experienced growth over the last 10 years.


Missouri Milk Cow Inventory (2000 to 2016)


Milk Cow Inventory


The number of Missouri's dairy farms are declining slowly. In December 2016, 1,073 permitted dairy farms operated in Missouri. Of these, 780 were Grade A farms, and 293 were manufacturing-grade farms, which includes Amish farms and some goat or sheep dairies.

Number of Commerical Dairy Operations in Missouri


The dairy industry is an important contributor to Missouri's economy. During 2016, the state's dairy industry generated $228.5 million in milk cash receipts. Milk cash receipts represented about 5 percent of the total livestock cash receipts in Missouri in 2015. Additionally, these cash receipts stimulate other economic effects and contribute to the state's economy. In 2016, the Missouri dairy industry supported 1,985 jobs and created $276.1 million in value-added to the state's economy (Decision Innovation Solutions, 2016).

Missouri Dairy Cash Receipts (2000 to 2016)


Missouri's milk production per cow tends to be low when compared to other U.S. states. An average U.S. dairy cow produced 22,774 pounds in 2016 as compared to Missouri's average of 15,602 pounds. A common explanation for this Missouri deviation is the state's reliance upon pasture-based dairy systems rather than confinement systems. Since 2005, Missouri's large-scale adoption of low-input intensive rotational grazing dairying has decreased and slowed the growth in the state's average milk production per cow.

Missouri Milk Production per Cow (2000 to 2016)


Milk Production Per Cow