After reaching high levels in January, slaughter of cull dairy cows dropped to a more-normal range in February.

According to the “Livestock Slaughter” report by USDA on Thursday, 259,000 dairy cows were slaughtered under federal inspection in February ― down 38,000 from January and down 2,000 from February 2012.

The 297,000 figure in January was the highest monthly slaughter figure since 1986. Read more.

The high cull rate in January came as no surprise, since many farms had to deal with high feed cost and low profitability.