When the drought became apparent in May, more dairy cows began going to slaughter as farmers trimmed their herds in the face of rising feed cost.

The trend continues.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Livestock Slaughter” report this morning, 4,000 more dairy cows went to slaughter in September than the same month a year ago.

During the period from May through September, the number of dairy cows going to slaughter was up 9.4 percent from the same period in 2011.

Last week, the USDA reported there were 9.195 million milk cows in the United States in September, down 6,000 from September 2011.

"We can expect cow numbers to continue to decline well into next year," dairy economist Bob Cropp says in his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook report.