Federally inspected milk cow slaughter was estimated at 302,400 head in March 2019, 15,500 head more than March 2018 and 23,500 head more than February 2019, according to the USDA’s Livestock Slaughter report. At 879,800 head, January-March 2019 slaughter is already nearly 42,500 ahead of the same period a year ago. So far this year, dairy cull cow slaughter has averaged about 11,500 per day (weekdays and Saturdays), 400 head more per day than for all of 2018.
The heavy culling is having an impact on the size of the U.S. dairy herd. The USDA’s Milk Production report estimated U.S. dairy cow numbers at 9.344 million head in March 2019, down 86,000 head from the year before. (Read: March milk production slips below year-ago levels.)
Dairy cull cow slaughter topped 300,000 head per month six times in 1986 during the whole-herd buyout program but had not topped that number again until March 2019.
A breakout of March 2019 dairy cull cow slaughter estimates in major dairy regions follows:
- 80,700 head in an area including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin
- 70,800 head in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada
- 46,300 head in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia
- 35,900 head in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas
- 35,700 head in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
Federally inspected milk cow slaughter was estimated at 3.153 million head in 2018, up about 5.5 percent from 2017.
- Progressive Dairyman
- Email Dave Natzke