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Lack of Dairy Replacements has Slowed Slaughter

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

High beef prices and dismal profit margins pushed dairy producers to cull their herds hard through summer. Although these dynamics have improved since then, the dairy herd continued to contract in September.

According to Sarina Sharp, analyst with the Daily Dairy Report, fewer heifers have been available to replace the milk cows that have been sent to slaughter, which also could be slowing cull rates. As of July 1, 3.65 million dairy heifers were ready to move into the national herd, the lowest mid-year number since 2004, according to USDA’s semi-annual Cattle report released in July.

USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter reports show that between January and August, dairy producers sent 121,700 more cows to packinghouses than they did in the first eight months of 2022. Over that same period this year, the U.S. milk cow herd declined 0.3% or by 32,000 cows.


November 9, 2023


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