What’s Going On In The Dairy Cow Market?

In the July 1 Daily Livestock Report the editor’s note that since the beginning of the year the dairy cowherd was contracting while the beef cowherd was up a full 1 percent.

The July 1 cattle inventory will be released by USDA-NASS on July 19, 2019, and the editors estimate the dairy cowherd has continued to contract through the first half of the year but has shown signs of slowing. First quarter slaughter was the largest of any quarter since 1986. The latest USDA-NASS Milk Production report came in with inventory at 9.333 million head. “Milk cow inventory is reported every month, and we would expect the July 1 inventory number to be reflective of those monthly numbers reported in June and July Milk Production Report” say the editors. Still, last year milk cows totaled 9.4 million on July 1. With monthly dairy cow slaughter up 5.6 percent year to date (Jan-May), dairy cow inventory is likely to be below a year ago. Margins in the dairy sector have improved somewhat but for many regions of the U.S. margins remain tight. Further, it seems unlikely the number of dairy cow replacements will rise above a year ago.

U.S. milk production declined in May to 19.06 billion pounds, down 0.4% from the prior year. The deficit was greater than expected, and the markets have rallied bumping the $18 mark several on sessions of the CME.

Dairy producers sent 258,100 cows to slaughter in May. That’s 13,000 head, or 5.8%, more than in May 2018 and the largest total for any May on record aside from 1986, the year of the cow-kill program. At this rate, the dairy herd is surely shrinking. Nonetheless, USDA reported that the dairy herd averaged 9.333 million head in May, down 89,000 cows from a year ago but 5,000 cows more than in April. The increase is suspect. However almost everyone agrees, slaughter volumes remain high, and milk output continues to slow.

At recent auctions the springing  heifer market has trended upward over $100 and buyers have seen the top heifers move even higher.

Last Saturday the Northwest Iowa dairy cow market was tested in a big way at Shep and Natalie Ysselstein’s Meadowvale dairy herd reduction sale auction at Rock Valley, IA. The auction slated 3,200 head of first lactation cows for the auction block. From the Overland Stock Yard on-line sale report, they indicated 1,935 (update 7-12-2109)animals sold either at auction or in negotiation after the auction.

During the auction, bidders and spectators saw 811 head sell for an average of $1,383 per head according to the prices I recorded. New numbers and prices prices were given for the animals sold in the auction and negotiation on the website for an average of $1,200 per head (updated 7-12-2019).

In addition, visitors had the opportunity to walk through the all-season hybrid ventilation barn and visit with Artex Barn Solutions representatives. The facilities featured Artex’s Bio Rail freestall sytems, Aqua dumps, adjustable gates and Breeze fans.

The sale report is available at:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Mailing List

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner