USDA Economic Research Service Dairy Outlook: January 2022

Chris Zoller, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) released its Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook on January 19, 2022.  The entire report is available here:  This article will provide a summary of the dairy section of the report.

Supply and Use

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates the number of milk cows in November was just over 9 million head, 10,000 lower than October and 47,000 lower than November 2020. The milk per cow estimate for November was 1,922 pounds, 3 pounds above November 2020.

In their most recent Milk Production report, the USDA NASS November U.S. milk production was estimated at just over 18 billion pounds (a little more than 600 million per day), a drop of 0.4% from November 2020.

Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated

Feed Price Outlook



2021/2022 Corn

$5.45 per bushel

2021/2022 Soybean Meal

$375 per ton

Alfalfa (as of November 2021)

$210 per ton

5-State Weighted Average – Alfalfa

$246 per ton

Dairy Estimates – 2021

Time Period & Category


4th Quarter – 2021 Cow Numbers

9.385 million head (10,000 head less)

4th Quarter – 2021 Milk Yield Per Cow

5,905 lb/head

2021 Milk Production

226.2 billion lb

Dairy Forecast – 2022

The latest report projects a slight increase in cow numbers in the second half of 2022, from 9.380 to 9.385 million head.  Average milk per cow is expected to be 24,265 lb.



Class III


Class IV


All Milk



The January 2022 USDA ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook ( indicates cautious optimism in the dairy industry for 2022.  However, continuing high input prices and supply chain issues make it critical that dairy farms analyze budgets and develop plans (with alternatives) for this year.

Additional information is available by contacting your local Extension Educator and using these OSU Extension resources: