Dairy cow slaughter is definitely up

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A substantially higher number of dairy cows went to slaughter in July than the same month a year earlier, an indication that high feed costs are causing some herds to liquidate.

According to the “Livestock Slaughter” report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this morning, 239,000 dairy cows went to slaughter in July, compared to 207,000 in July 2011.

That is a 32,000-cow increase, which is substantially higher than the 2,000-cow year-over-year increase in April and the 10,000-cow increase in June. Yet, in May ― before this summer’s drought set in and caused feed prices to skyrocket ― the increase was 31,000 head, which might suggest the nation’s dairy herd was already in the process of downsizing.  

The true impact of this summer’s drought may not show up until the August numbers are in.

For the week ending Aug. 11, dairy cow slaughter under federal inspection was up 7.7 percent, at 57,300 head, compared with the same period the previous year, points out Dave Kurzawski, dairy analyst with FC Stone/Downes-O’Neill in Chicago. Year-to-date slaughter levels are 4.9 percent higher than 2011 levels, with 1,857,600 head slaughtered.


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Virginia  |  August, 24, 2012 at 08:30 AM

I suspect that the earlier May sales reflect the higher pound cow prices of that time

Cy Byrd    
Iowa  |  August, 24, 2012 at 03:11 PM

Following is an e-mail I received from my Feed Consultant in January of 2011, 20 months ago. "Just in case you have not read about it, there is a strong La Nina ( cold water in the East Pacific) developing. This is normally followed by a drought in the midwest and the last one was in 1988. I can testify to the cold ocean waters, they are at least 5 degrees below or normal for this time of year. So what does this mean for you. You need to be laying in a some extra feed, especially forage, and booking part of your feed purchases. These are good insurance moves, and the downside is not that great. Also, get rid of culls now before the drought hits. They are eating valuable feed and their value will drop if the drought hits the plains states in the spring and beef cows herds are thinned. The midwest has a drought about every 19 years......we are overdue. Dr. Kent Nelson"

wi  |  August, 28, 2012 at 02:36 PM

Excuse me, but where have you been? The Midwest HAS BEEN IN A DROUGHT ALL SUMMER!


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