USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service surveys producers on dairy cow prices quarterly (published in their Agricultural Prices report). The latest release was for the third quarter. Data are collected only for cows sold to be used as dairy herd replacement purposes, the national number is calculated by weighting state values by cow inventory.
Nationally, for the quarter ending October 1, 2018, the average cow price was $1230.00, a drop from the prior quarter of $90.00 (down 7%). Yearover-year the decline was $380.00 per cow (fell by 24%). That price adjustment reflects what producers see as the drop in the income earning potential of a purchased cow due to weak farm-level milk prices. The latest reported price was the lowest since October 1998.
Of the reported states, none had a quarter-over-quarter or a year-over-year increase in dairy cow prices. Only two states (Arizona and South Dakota) had no price change in the latest versus the prior quarter.
The largest quarter-over-quarter decline was in Florida (down 12%). Year-over-year, two states had a drop of larger than 30%, Minnesota (down 33%) and Ohio (fell 31%). The smallest change compared to a year ago was 15%, which happened in three states (Arizona. New Mexico, and Texas).
Replacement cow prices have adjusted much more slowly than anticipated, given the milk price environment over the last several years.