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Fewer Cows are Being Culled, Here's the Main Reason Why

There has been much anticipation that culling would increase significantly due to continued low milk prices. Milk prices have been low for an extended period, but culling has not reduced cow numbers as anticipated. There have been farms exiting the dairy business with a substantial number of them due to smaller farms selling out because many have reached an age where they have decided to retire. Many do not have family members that wish to continue the dairy farm. Many of those cows have moved to another operation and the plant space is being assumed by another farm that wishes to expand. It is known that cows raised in a tie-stall barn often cannot adapt to a free-stall barn, making that generally not a good fit. However, cows continue to move from one farm to the next.

Cow numbers have been declining with the U.S. dairy herd totaling 9.334 million head in March, a decline of 98,000 head from March 2023. This was 12,000 more cows than there were in January. Cows are being held onto more willingly due to the expensive heifer replacements. Over the past few years, the bar has been raised with many of the cows on dairy farms maintaining high milk production leaving fewer to move to the slaughter plant.


April 30, 2024



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