Missouri Dairy Business Update Commercial Agriculture
Volume 4, Number 2
February 2004

Dairy Heifer Price Outlook

Higher milk prices and tighter heifer supplies likely mean higher replacement prices throughout 2004.

According to the USDA Dairy Outlook, "On January 1, 2004, there were 4,020,000 dairy replacement heifers (500 pounds and over) on farms, down more than 2 percent from a year earlier. At 44.7 heifers per 100 milk cows, the replacement herd was still large by historic standards-although possibly not large in light of the elevated culling of recent years. The largest decline from a year ago was for older heifers. Heifers expected to enter the milking herd during the coming year were down 4 percent from a year earlier. At the start of 2003, a relatively large share of the replacement herd was due to start milking that year.

The absence of imported Canadian heifers and cows will add extra tightness to replacement supplies. Live animals can no longer be brought in from Canada because of BSE-related restrictions. In recent years, imports of female dairy breeding stock from Canada have been equivalent to 1 to 2 percent of the U.S. heifer herd. It is uncertain when these restrictions will be relaxed. "

Check the Heifers web page on the Missouri Dairymen's Resource Guide for the latest heifer prices around the country.

For some historical perspective on dairy replacement costs, below is a graph of the USDA's recorded replacement prices in the US and Missouri since 1998.

James Coomer, MU Commercial Agriculture Dairy Nutritionist, has put together an historical price excel spreadsheet of the Mammouth Cave Dairy Sale, ( Smith Grove, KY), dairy heifer prices by weight range. To download it, click on HEIFER PRICE SPREADSHEET

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