How Many Dairy Cows: Country And Region Wise Comparative Analysis And Global Numbers


With the increasing demand for milk worldwide, dairy cow production has also witnessed a boost. As a result, we see more dairy cows nowadays than a decade ago.

Around 270 million dairy cows are tended by millions of farmers worldwide to generate milk. However, the number of dairy cows will get further accelerations, as in the next ten years, global milk output is expected to expand at a rate of 1.6 percent per year.

Keeping these increasing numbers in mind, we have endeavored to currently explore the number of cows in different regions of the world. Initially, we will focus on the number of dairy cows worldwide, then find the numbers country-wise.

Free photo Beef Milk Cow Cow Cattle Cows Dairy Cows - Max Pixel
Image Credit: Black and white dairy cow from Maxpixel

By the end of this long article, we will get a concrete data set of the prevailing number of dairy cows in all the major milk-producing nations in the world. 

How many dairy cows are there in the world?

Milk and milk products are in high demand around the world. These increased needs have pushed the farmers to accelerate milk production and breed more dairy cows. 

Currently, more than 264 million dairy cows worldwide produce over 550 million tonnes of milk every year. That being said, the European Union is the world’s greatest milk producer. But in 2020, India ranked the top in terms of housing the highest number of milk cows (around 56450). 

As far as the breeds are concerned, the Holstein Fresian cow breed produces the highest volume of milk per lactation period. 

How many dairy cows are there in the US?

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Image Credit: Dairy cows grazing on the field from Pxhere

The US dairy industry is one of the top economic contributors of the nation. Farms, organizations, and businesses that produce milk, cheese, and associated goods are all involved.

According to data published in 2019, over 9 million dairy cows are there in this country. The dominating dairy breed in the US is the Holstein, which produces approximately 23,000lbs milk per lactation period. 

How many dairy cows are there in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is one of the top milk producers in the US and is called “America’s Dairyland”. The 7000 dairy farms of this state produced over 2.40 billion pounds of milk each month as of 2018. 

As of October 2021, there are 1,278,000 dairy cows in Wisconsin and 6,618 licensed dairy herds. However, if we go deeper, we will find that this US state has an average of 193 dairy cows per dairy farm, which produce more than 240 gallons per year. 

How many dairy cows are there in California?

California has been the topmost milk-producing state in the US in 1993. In fact, California’s dairy industry contributes significantly to the state’s agricultural production.

There are over 1,300 dairy farms, with over 1.725 million dairy cows. That being said, one out of every five dairy cows in the US can be found in California. 

How many dairy cows are there in NZ?

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Image Credit: Balck and white cows on an NZ grassland from Pxhere

Humans and dairy cows alike will like living in New Zealand. This nation is one of the top milk-producing countries in the world.

Dairy is New Zealand’s greatest value-added producer, with over 6 million cows expected to be housed by 2020. That said, this nation has witnessed an increase in dairy cattle by almost 82%, from 3.4 million to 6.3 million

If we see specifically, we will find that Dairy cattle in Canterbury increased exponentially from 113,000 to 1.2 million, while dairy cattle in Southland surged from 38,000 to 636,000.

How many dairy cows are there in Ireland?

Whenever we hear about Ireland dairy cows, the image of highland cows comes to our mind. This is because Irish dairy producers went into the growing stage to meet the country’s growing demand for milk and dairy products.

Blessed with a temperate climate and vast highlands, Ireland has witnessed a surge in dairy cows. According to ICBF data, the national dairy herd in Ireland was 1,603,721 as of June 1, 2021, up by 2.3% from 1,567,945 cows in 2020. 

That said, with a total of 388,831 dairy cows, Cork continues to have the largest dairy herd in Ireland.

How many dairy cows are there in Australia?

We don’t usually think of Australia while discussing the dairy industry. But this nation has witnessed dynamic growth in terms of flourishing its dairy sector. 

That said, the Australian dairy sector contributes around $3 billion to the country’s economy, and it houses over 1.5 million dairy cows. And much like the US, this continent is also dominated by the Holstein Friesian cow breed, which accounts for around 75% of all dairy cattle.

How many dairy cows are there in the UK?

The UK is the world’s thirteenth largest milk producer, producing 15.3 billion liters of milk in 2020. However, this industry has witnessed a decline in dairy cows from 2019 to 2020.

If the current reports are to be considered, in 2019, there were 1.87 million dairy cows in the UK, which has declined to 1.85 million in 2020. Also, the number of female cattle above 24 months has decreased, falling by 34,000 head to 265,000

In the following table, you will get the idea of the UK’s 2014- 2020 trend of dairy cow trends.

Image Credit: AHDB

How many dairy cows are there in Canada?

Dairy farming is a part of the Canadian agricultural sector. However, Canadian farms tend to be smaller than the UK, US, or Ireland. Nonetheless, they contribute significantly to the country’s GDP. 

According to 2018 statistics, there were more than 967,000 dairy cows on 10,679 farms in Canada. Quebec is Canada’s leading dairy-producing region with roughly 365,000 dairy cows and 142 dairy production facilities. Second and third place, respectively, go to Ontario and British Columbia.

How many dairy cows are there in Europe?

As stated above, the dairy industry of the EU stands second in the world in terms of output value. Among the top producers in the EU are Germany, France, and the UK.

That said, in 2015, the EU had 23.4 million dairy cows on 1.7 million ranches, with estimated milk production of 7000 liters per dairy cow annually. In 2017, Germany had the most dairy cattle with 4.2 million, followed by France with 3.6 million dairy cows.

How many dairy cows are there in France?

France is one of the top milk-producing nations in the EU, constituting around 15% of the total EU-28 dairy cow population in 2017.

The French dairy industry witnessed an increase of dairy cows from 3.6 million in 2015 to 17.5 million in 2020.

How many dairy cows are there in Germany?

The German dairy sector is a huge contributor to the EU dairy industry. This country has a long cattle production and management history and stands 5th at global milk production. 

As per the latest report, there are approximately 12.9 million cattle, with 4.2 million dairy cows and 0.7 million suckler cows in Germany. The four dominating cow breeds here are German Holsteins and Red Holsteins, the German Fleckvieh, and the German Braunvieh, contributing almost 80% of all the breeds.

How many dairy cows are there in India?

The Indian dairy industry can give tough competition to some of the largest milk-producing nations. In 2006, it transformed itself from a milk shortage nation to a leading milk producer.

Although the EU is universally acclaimed the position of the highest milk producer, India has beaten the EU with its 56.45 million milk cows as of 2020. At almost 23.4 million milk cows, the European Union ranked second globally that year. 

The top 6 milking cow breeds in India are:

  • Sahiwal
  • Gir
  • Red Sindhi
  • Rathi
  • Ongole
  • Deoni

How many dairy cows are there in Kenya?

25 years of its independence, Kenya is now a self-sufficient milk-producing nation. Kenya has roughly 400 000 smallholder dairy producers that produce over 70% of the country’s marketed milk.

Kenya has somewhat more than three million dairy cattle, mostly black and white Friesians, Channel Island breeds, Ayrshires, and hybrids, with the majority of them situated in the Central Province.

How many dairy cows are there in Mexico?

Mexico is one of the significant cattle exporters. Mexico sent nearly one million head of cattle to the US for feeding between 1989 and 2009, largely steers and heifers. 

Mexico has witnessed a slow but steady growth in the last few years. As per 2007 reports, there were 2,966,117 dairy cattle in Mexico.

How many dairy cows are there in Ontario?

Canada has one of the world’s highest average milk-to-cow ratios. There are 20,000 dairy farms here, with around 54 cows per farm.

Ontario is the 2nd highest milk producer in Canada, with 318,100 dairy cows. However, the first position is occupied by Quebec with 362,900 dairy cows.  

How many dairy cows are there in Africa?

Africa is also running fast to compete with the world’s milk-producing champions. That said, Kenya is among Africa’s top milk-producing nations.

As per the reports of 2015, Africa had dairy cows five times (49 million) that of the US. The majority of cows in Kenya are crossbred exotic varieties that barely generate 10 to 11lbs per cow per day.

How many dairy cows are there in Scotland?

The Scottish dairy sector is immensely diversified and comprises heavily grazed low-yielding cows and high input-high output cows.

That being said, there are around 178,490 dairy cows in Scotland, as per the report of the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association in the first quarter of 2020. The Scottish dairy industry produces 1.5 billion liters of milk a year with these many dairy cows.

How many dairy cows are there in the Netherlands?

The Dutch countryside is famous for housing some of the healthiest dairy cows in the world. The black and white Holstein cows are pretty famous in this area.

There are around 20,000 dairy farms in the Netherlands, with over 1.5 million dairy cows, which produce above 14 billion kg of milk every year.

Summary

Before wrapping up, we would like to state that most nations have witnessed a considerable increase in dairy cattle. One of the sole reasons behind this increase is the enhancement of technologies and breeding procedures. 

If you are interested in learning about the nations not mentioned above, you can conduct your own research. This further helps you to compare and contrast the data.

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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