December Dairy Cow Culling Picks Up
Looking at the raw numbers, it appears dairy cow culling slowed in December compared to a year ago and was up only tick from November, according to the Livestock Slaughter report released by the United States Department of Agriculture this afternoon.
But that belies the fact that were fewer days to process cattle this past December than in November or December 2016. On a per day basis, cow culling was up 6.5% over November and up 7.5% over a year ago.
The total dairy cow kill through federally inspected plants in 2017 was up 3.6%, up almost 103,000 head. A total of 2,988,400 dairy cows were processed last year.
Another contrarian fact is that USDA also estimates cows on U.S. dairy farms are at 9.4 million head, up 47,000 head from a year ago in December. On an annual average basis, live dairy cow numbers are up 64,000 head over 2016, or about 0.7%. In other words, even though dairy farmers are culling more cows, they’re also keeping and milking even more.
You can read the full Livestock Slaughter report here.