The United States Department of Agriculture released its December 2014 Livestock Slaughter report this afternoon, showing that 257,000 dairy cows were processed through federally inspected plants last month. This is exactly the same number that was processed a year ago.
But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story, since there was one more working day to process cattle this year. On a daily basis, plants processed about 555 head less in December 2014, or about 4.5% fewer cattle.
December 2014 culling was up 39,000 head, or 18%, over November 2014. But again, December had 22 working days while November had just 19. As a result, plants actually processed 208 head more per day in December, or 1.8%. You can read the full slaughter report here.
In the USDA December Milk Production Report released today, there were 9.3 million cows on U.S. dairy farms in November. That’s up 100,000 head from a year ago, and the first time estimated cow numbers surpassed 9.3 million head since January 2009. For all of 2014, cow numbers averaged 9.255 million head, up 34,000 head over 2013.