Cows feeding at bunk.
February 28, 2019

2018 Dairy Cow Culling Up 5.5%

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The United States Department of Agriculture reported this week that dairy farmers culled nearly 165,000 more cows in 2018 than they did in 2017, a 5.5% increase. For the year, dairy farmers sent 3.153 million cows to slaughter in federally inspected plants compared to 2.988 million in 2017.


December 2018 culling was also up nearly 700 cows per day over December 2017, a 5.6% increase. December 2018 culling over November 2018 was also up nearly 300 head per day, a 2.3% increase.


USDA also reported in its December milk production report last week that total dairy cow numbers in December were also down 49,000 head from a year ago, and down 3,000 from November. December milk production, thanks to more milk per cow, was still up 0.5% from a year ago and up 0.9% for the entire year.


In more normal times, milk production increases of less than 1% are easily absorbed by the market due to increasing population, say economists. But because of slowing exports due to trade disputes with Mexico and China and record levels of cheese in storage, prices remain soft.


You can view the full December livestock slaughter report here.