Wednesday, 21 February 2024 14:00

Heifer numbers down

Written by  Milking It

OPINION: US milk production is facing a new challenge- a sharp decline in the number of dairy heifers available to replace older cows exiting the dairy herd.

Reports says this could limit any meaningful growth in domestic milk production over the next few years. The number of dairy replacement heifers has fallen almost 15% over the last six years to reach a 20-year low, data US Department of Agriculture’s most recent “Cattle” report showed. While the global demand outlook for US dairy products remains murky due to export market uncertainties, any potential growth opportunities may be stymied by an inability to expand US milk production.

According to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, the rising cost of rearing dairy heifer calves has far outpaced increases in heifer values over the last several years.

That imbalance has prompted dairy farmers to reduce their heifer replacement inventories, in large part by breeding more dairy heifers and cows to beef bulls.

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