Year to date calf slaughter totals are down more than 15 percent, and nearly 40 percent below the five year average. Calf slaughter is primarily dairy bred calves that enter the veal market. The veal market has seen declining consumption for several years, and the pandemic accelerated that trend to some extent. Cold storage numbers for veal at the end of the first quarter showed supplies on hand are down 40 percent from last year.
Dairy cow slaughter has been above last year but is tracking very closely with the five-year average.
April’s milk production report from last Friday by USDA NASS showed the U.S. milk cow herd is shrinking. Total U.S. milk cows shed 16,000 head compared to the previous month but are still above a year ago even though milk prices are well below last year’s levels.