After dropping from high levels in January to a more-normal range in February, slaughter of cull dairy cows crept back up in March.

According to the “Livestock Slaughter” report by the USDA on Thursday, 274,000 dairy cows were slaughtered under federal inspection in March. -- up 15,000 head from February, but down 4,000 head from March 2012.

Read more.

In January, the number of slaughtered dairy cows reached 297,000 -- the highest monthly slaughter figure since 1986. This high cull rate came as no surprise, since many farms have had to deal with high feed cost and low profitability.