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2024 starts with fewer dairy cows, replacement heifers



With fewer cows and increased crossbreeding to beef sires, the number of dairy replacement heifers to start the year is the lowest in nearly two decades.


The USDA’s semiannual estimate of cattle inventories indicates the number of dairy cows to start 2024 are the lowest in four years. With lower cow numbers and increased crossbreeding to beef sires, the number of dairy replacement heifers to start the year is the lowest in nearly two decades.

As of Jan. 1, U.S. dairy herds contained about 9.357 million dairy cows that calved in 2023, down about 40,700 from a year earlier (Table 1). It’s the smallest number of milk cows to start a year since 2020.




Dave Natzke

February 2, 2024


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