At first glance, it appears U.S. dairy producers have slowed culling considerably from a year ago. USDA released its January Livestock Slaughter Report
this morning, showing 49,000 fewer dairy cows were sent to slaughter this January compared to a year ago.
Keep in mind, however, that the last Cooperatives Working Together Round of the 2008 culling program was still being wrapped in January 2009. It likely accounted for many of those extra cull cows last year.
Compared to December 2009, January's culling level of 232,000 cows was actually up 1,000 head. Dairy Farmers of America economists also report that the pace of culling through the first six weeks of 2010 is running 4.8% higher than the five-year average.
USDA also estimates
dairy cow numbers to be 227,000 head lower in January compared to a year ago but up 3,000 head over December 2009.