The United States Department of Agriculture reported this afternoon that April dairy cow culling totaled 268,000 head, up 12% over April 2012.
April culling was slightly less than March, however, down 6,000 head, or 2%. The per day kill was down even more, since there was one more business/working day in April than in March (assuming slaughter plants operated on Good Friday).
Year-to-date, culling is up 52,000 head, or 2.5%.
Some of the increase in culling numbers could be the result of a closure a dairy cow slaughter facility in Quebec, Canada. Most of those cows are now being processed in Ontario. But some are slipping south into Pennsylvania, says Dan Rentschler with the American Food Group.
In Region 3, which is the Mid-Atlantic reporting area that includes Pennsylvania, 43,100 dairy cows were slaughter in April. That’s up 10,500 head from April 2012. March dairy cow slaughter in Region 3 was up 9,900 head. So it is possible some of the increased slaughter seen this year is actually displaced Canadian cows.
It probably hasn’t affected beef prices, say analysts, since much of the Canadian beef ended up in American meat cases anyway. The difference now is that it’s arriving on the hoof rather than in a box.
The full April livestock slaughter report can be read here.