Dairy heifers weighing over 500 pounds — a proxy for the number of dairy replacements expected to enter the U.S. milking herd over the next year — have fallen almost 15% during the past six years to settle at 4.06 million head.
That downward shift has taken place so fast that USDA revised its January 2023 dairy heifer inventory figure from 4.34 to 4.07 million. That’s a remarkable 263,000-head reduction in dairy heifers for the same snapshot in time between the January 2023 and January 2024 USDA Cattle reports.
As it stands now, the 4.06 million dairy heifers 500 pounds and over is the lowest total since January 2004, when there were 4.02 million head of dairy heifers in the 500 pound-plus category.
Feb 8, 2024