Dairy cow slaughter highest in 26 years

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It comes as no surprise: Dairy cull cow slaughter was up considerably in 2012.

In the wake of high feed cost and low profitability, 3.101 million dairy cows went to slaughter last year, according to the “Livestock Slaughter” report issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That was 187,000 more than went to slaughter in 2011.

According to reports, the 2012 total is the highest in 26 years. The last time it was higher was 1986, which was influenced by the federal whole herd buy-out program.

1986 was the first year that dairy cattle slaughter was reported separate from total cattle slaughter. In 1986, 3.595 million dairy cows went to slaughter. See January 1987 report.

2012 was almost 500,000 below 1986, but still high by historical standards. See “9.4% more cows slaughtered in May-September.”

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Loren Lopes    
California  |  January, 28, 2013 at 08:37 AM

With dairy cull rate the highest ever it is really difficult to believe that the fundementals of supply and demand have not kicked in with better milk prices. This shows that we never will know how much milk is needed by looking at cow numbers. This looks like around a national cull rate of around 35%. This should have kept production level or downward. Especially with high feed costs and ration adjustments that resulted in less milk per cow. This does show that funementals are out wack in the dairy business.

wi  |  January, 28, 2013 at 02:47 PM

No one remembers to mention how in 2011, all reports stated there were a record number of replacement heifers in inventory. Sexed semen caused an explosion in heifer population in 2012. But....2009 came along and many farmers cut back or stopped using it, therefore, I predict 2013, cow numbers will actually drop more and supply will drop a bit more. But you have to remember also, a lot of the cows culled in 2012 were the low producers. milk per cow will keep going up.

MN  |  February, 25, 2013 at 09:47 AM

I do believe the sexed semen definately has contributed to get our cow numbers out of wack. If we had an explosion in heifers available in 2012-wouldn't they have been born in 2010 and from breedings done in 2009. Eventually we dairy farmers will learn we can't produce too many heifers. I believe more cows start getting bred to beef bulls.


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