Cattle inventory indicates potential expansion in dairy industry

The recently released Jan. 1 Cattle Inventory report kicks off the year with hard numbers on both the dairy and beef cattle herd.  This highly anticipated report is one of the few that looks at both total beef cattle and replacement numbers.  For the dairy herd, monthly numbers are provided as part of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service monthly Milk Production report.  The Jan. 1 Cattle report is the only report that counts the dairy heifer replacements held for breeding.

The dairy herd inventory was up 1 percent during 2017, adding 54,000 head to last year’s Jan. 1 number.  It is the highest inventory on Jan. 1 since 1996.  Milk cow replacements also increased 27,000 head from last year.  This is also the fourth consecutive year dairy replacements represent over 50 percent of the milking herd, continuing the long-term trend of growing replacement numbers, which have become a larger and larger proportion of the dairy herd since 2004.  Some attribute this growth to increased use of sexed semen and greater emphasis on reproductive management.

The Kansas dairy herd has grown 16 percent in the last five years, while the number of heifers has increased 40 percent. However, the Sunflower State also has quite a few heifer-raising facilities that ship heifers out of state.  Mississippi and Kentucky have seen declining dairy numbers to the tune of 36 and 21 percent, respectively, while the number of heifers has declined over the last five years.  Kansas is expecting to continue expanding its dairy herd along with states such as Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon and New York.  All these states have above-average heifer ratios and have been expanding the number of replacements over the last five years, as well as increasing the number of milking cows, with the exception of Minnesota.

Source: AFBF (via Drovers)