Falling milk prices likely triggered heavier dairy cow culling in December and the head count was dead even (pardon the pun) with a year ago, according to data in USDA’s latest Livestock Slaughter report issued Thursday, January 22.
The report shows an estimated 257,000 dairy cows were slaughtered under Federal inspection in the month, up 39,000 head from November and matched the head count of December 2013.
Looking at the full 12 months of 2014, USDA estimates that 2.82 million head of dairy cows ended their dairy career, 309,000 head less than 2013.
The report also states that commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.14 billion pounds in December, up slightly from the 4.14 billion pounds produced in December 2013.
Beef production, at 2.00 billion pounds, was 2 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.44 million head, down 5 percent from December 2013. The average live weight was up 29 pounds from the previous year, at 1,363 pounds.
Veal production totaled 7.6 million pounds, 22 percent below December a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 43,000 head, down 35 percent from December 2013. The average live weight was up 51 pounds from last year, at 302 pounds.
Pork production totaled 2.11 billion pounds, up 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.85 million head, up 1 percent from December 2013. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 286 pounds.
January to December 2014 commercial red meat production was 47.3 billion pounds, down 4 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 6 percent from last year, veal was down 16 percent, pork was down 1 percent from last year.