Despite higher milk prices, dairy farmers are still in tough financial straits due to high feed costs.

So, it may not come as any surprise that dairymen are sending a high number of cows to market. According to the USDA’s “Livestock Slaughter” report on Friday, 264,000 dairy cows were slaughtered in January. That is up 32,000 from the same month a year earlier.

Both December (at 265,000 head slaughtered) and January had large slaughter numbers compared to the other months in 2010. Those other months — from January through November —averaged 231,000.

Source: “Livestock Slaughter” report, USDA, Feb. 25