Animal Units (AUs) are equal to 1,000 animal pounds, for example, an average mature 1,400 lb dairy cow is 1.4 animal units, a layer or broiler chicken is 0.033. These measurements are calculated to make the data comparable across species, and allow for large scale trend analysis. (Additionally, to understand more about the way animal units are calculated for capacity purposes in Iowa see the DNR’s website here.)

The Midwest positions feed production in close proximity to animals which create a demand for this feed, making the Midwest the most productive region in the United States for the various production animals. Of the Midwest states Wisconsin (1,792,000 AUs) has the largest number of dairy cow animal units, the next state is Minnesota (644,000 AUs) which is 36 percent of the number of dairy cow animal units in Wisconsin for 2016. Trends in market shares of Midwest state dairy cow herds have stayed relatively steady over the last decade. No significant changes in the individual states’ market shares have occurred in the past 10 years. 

Iowa has increased only 7 percent (roughly 20,000 AUs) in the last decade going from 274,400 animal units in 2005, to 294,000 animal units in 2016.

Turkey, laying hens, and hog reports of the same nature as this report are forthcoming.

Preston Lyman is a Research Analyst with Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS). DIS is an Iowa-Based economic research firm which provides regular farm economics research and analysis to the Iowa Farm Bureau staff and members.