With U.S. prices for dairy replacement cattle skyrocketing and lower inventories of available heifers, June 2014 exports of female dairy cattle fell to the lowest level in five years. USDA’s Foreign Ag Service said only 641 female dairy replacements were exported during the month, the lowest monthly total since June 2009.

The January-June total is 20,403 head, the lowest total for the first half of a year since 2010.

Mexico was the top market in June, at 286 head, followed by Kazakhstan, with 158 head, and Canada, with 109. Mexico remained the biggest dairy replacement market so far in 2014, importing 9,619 head, or about 47% of all exported female dairy cattle.

Previously, USDA estimated domestic replacement cow prices had jumped to their highest level in six years. U.S. quarterly replacement dairy cow prices averaged $1,970/head in July, up $160/head from April and $530 more than January. Current average prices are nearly equal to the July 2008 average of $1,990/head. The record high for any quarter was $2,020/head, set in October 2008.

And, in its semi-annual Cattle report released on July 25, USDA said there were about 3.900 million dairy replacement heifers (>500 lbs.) in U.S. herds on July 1, 2014, down 200,000 head from two years earlier, and dropping to July 1 totals in 2007 and 2008.