Dairy Herd Mid-Year Inventory Sees No Change Since 2017

The dairy cow herd is still at 9.4 million head on July 1 for the second year in a row. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

The mid-year cattle inventory report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows no growth or reduction in the dairy herd.

According to the report released on July 20, the milk cow herd is still at 9.4 million head, no change from the same time last year.

Similarly, the dairy heifer replacement numbers were unchanged with the herd still at 4.2 million head for the July 1 inventory. 

The inventory on Jan. 1 made headlines because both dairy cows and replacements saw a 1% increase. It was the highest dairy inventory since 1996.

Since the start of the year inventory the dairy herd has seen no change in cow numbers, while the replacement heifer numbers have dropped 580,000 head.

The stop in dairy cow growth and drop in heifer retention might be a sign that the dairy herd has stopped expanding. With processors like Dean Foods closing fluid milk plants in past year, milk prices stagnating and tariffs bringing uncertainty to trade there have been few market signals to continue expanding.

Meanwhile, the beef cow inventory is continuing to increase with 0.9% more beef cows added to reach 32.5 million head. The calf crop is also slated to see a 2% increase in the overall cattle inventory. Nationally the total herd including both beef and dairy cattle was at 103 million on July 1.