You may know that Wisconsin is famous for cheese, but did you know that it’s the second leading state nationwide in milk production? Each month, Wisconsin cows produce 2.44 billion pounds of milk!1 But how many cows are in Wisconsin? As of Jan 1, 2023 is it estimated that Wisconsin is home to more than 3.4 million cattle.

Wisconsin has been home to dairy farms for over 180 years. Most of these are family owned and operated. Nearly a quarter of the nation’s dairy farms are in Wisconsin alone.

Read on to learn more facts about the cows in this state.

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How Many Dairy Cows Are in Wisconsin?

There are approximately 6,500 dairy farms in Wisconsin. This means that Wisconsin is home to more than 1,000,000 dairy cows. Each farm has approximately 175 dairy cows.

Every day, each dairy cow produces 67 pounds of milk.

dairy cow standing on grass
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What About Beef?

In addition to dairy production, Wisconsin also produces beef. Surprisingly, there are more beef than dairy farms throughout the state. With 14,800 beef farms in Wisconsin, the state is home to 3.5 million cattle.

How Much Cheese Is Produced in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is the number-one cheese-producing state in the nation. It has more licensed cheesemakers than any other state, with a count of 1,200. It ranks first in the production of cheddar, American, brick, mozzarella, muenster, and Limburger cheeses, but it produces over 600 varieties and styles of cheese.

In 2020, Wisconsin produced 3.39 million pounds of cheese! Together, mozzarella and cheddar made up more than half of the cheese production at 54%. Half of all specialty cheeses come from Wisconsin.

cheese storage in a factory
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What Is the Largest Dairy Farm in Wisconsin?

The Rosendale Dairy Farm is Wisconsin’s largest. It is home to 8,400 cows and produces 78,000 gallons of milk every day.

The farm is located in Pickett, Wisconsin. It offers group tours so you can see how the farm operates.

How Much Money Does Wisconsin’s Dairy Production Make?

Wisconsin’s dairy industry is more lucrative than the combined value of Florida citrus and Idaho potatoes. It generates $45.6 billion every year, driving the economy with the creation of 154,000 jobs. Wisconsin’s state and local taxes receive $1.26 billion each year from the dairy industry.

milk containers outside the factory
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What City Is the Cheese Capital?

While Wisconsin is the Dairy Capital of the World, one of its cities has been proclaimed the Cheese Capital of the World.

Plymouth, Wisconsin, is home to various cheesemakers, like Sargento, Great Lakes, and Masters Gallery. Approximately 15% of cheese eaten in the United States has moved through Plymouth.

Which State Produces More Milk Than Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is the second leading state in the nation when it comes to milk production. So, which one is the first?

California is the top milk-producing state! Its dairy cows produce over 4 billion pounds of milk each year.

The top five milk-producing states in the United States are:

  • California: 40 billion pounds per year
  • Wisconsin: 30 billion pounds per year
  • Idaho: 15 billion pounds per year
  • New York: 15 billion pounds per year
  • Texas: 13 billion pounds per year
cow's milk production
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Does Wisconsin Produce Goat Milk?

In addition to dairy cows, Wisconsin’s dairy goat industry is also thriving. There are 74,000 dairy goats in Wisconsin. The state ranks first in goat milk production in the nation.

Why Does Wisconsin Produce So Much Cheese?

Early dairy farmers in Wisconsin chose to make cheese because it kept longer than milk or butter. Cheese was a better option for production because storage and transportation were limited. The first cheese factory was established in 1841 by Anne Pickett, who used milk from her neighbor’s farm to produce the cheese.

Over time, cheesemakers made improvements to cheese production and began to educate farmers on the proper techniques.

cheese production in a factory
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Which State Has the Least Number of Dairy Cows?

Alaska has the fewest cows, with only 300 in the state. It is home to one dairy farm, so Alaska produces only 2.8 million pounds of milk each year. Wisconsin, by comparison, has 8,500 times more farms, and California produces 14,433 times more milk!

What Are the Common Cow Breeds Seen in Wisconsin?

Beef cattle breeds include:
  • Angus
  • Hereford
  • Shorthorn
  • Limousin
  • Maine-Anjou
Dairy cow breeds include:

You can see these breeds at the Wisconsin State Fair during cattle events.

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It’s no wonder that Wisconsin is second in the nation when it comes to dairy production. With over 1 million dairy cows, the state produces over 2 billion pounds of milk each year. In addition to cows, it also produces goat milk, ranking first in goat milk production in the country. There are over 3 million beef cattle in Wisconsin, with 14,800 beef farms in the state. If you’re visiting Wisconsin, be sure to take advantage of everything that this state has to offer!

Featured Image Credit: CallyL, Pixabay