In an apparent contradiction, the number of milk cows in the U.S. continues to increase despite higher slaughter numbers.

According to the “Livestock Slaughter” report, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday, the number of dairy cows going to slaughter in March was 268,000, up 12,000 from the same month a year earlier. And, March slaughter was 19,000 higher than February.

Yet, the number of milk cows in the top 23 milk-producing states was up 17,000 in March from February.

That same trend has been in place the last several months.

Analysts point to an abundant supply of replacement heifers stepping in to replace the older cull cows.