top of page
  • ZISK

Shrinking Supply Of Dairy Heifers May Limit Growth Of U.S. Milk Production by: CoBank

A sharp decline in the number of dairy heifers available to replace older cows exiting the U.S. dairy herd could limit any meaningful growth in domestic milk production over the next few years. The number of dairy replacement heifers has fallen almost 15% over the last six years to reach a 20-year low, according to data from the USDA’s most recent Cattle report. While the global demand outlook for U.S. dairy products remains murky due to export market uncertainties, any potential growth opportunities may be stymied by an inability to expand U.S. milk production.

According to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, the rising cost of rearing dairy heifer calves has far outpaced increases in heifer values over the last several years. That imbalance has prompted dairy farmers to reduce their heifer replacement inventories, in large part by breeding more dairy heifers and cows to beef bulls. Contraction in the U.S. beef herd due to drought and other adverse conditions has led to record high prices for beef cattle and retail beef products.

“Raising dairy heifers has been a losing proposition for most farmers in recent years, to the tune of $600 – $900 per animal,” said Corey Geiger, lead dairy economist for CoBank.

Feb 8, 2024



bottom of page