Missouri Dairy Business Update Commercial Agriculture
Volume 4, Number 8
August 2004

Dairy Heifer Price Outlook

According to the August Livestock, Dairy, & Poultry Outlook

"Prices of dairy cow replacements hit a record $1,720 per head in July, up more than $400 from a year earlier. Replacement prices jumped since early 2004 mostly because record milk prices boosted demand for dairy heifers. However, the difference between the average replacement price during April-Junn and the slaughter value for dairy cows was considerably less than it had been during late 2001 and most of 2002 because of higher cull cow prices.

The inventory of dairy replacement heifers (500 pounds and more) stood at 3.6
million on July 1, unchanged from a year earlier but down slightly from 2 years
earlier. Total supplies of heifers were down slightly at midyear because Canadian
imports were not available. Typically, annual imports of replacements from Canada
have been equivalent to 1 or 2 percent of the replacement herd.

Increased demand for replacements has had the greatest impact on prices. Very
high milk prices made farmers anxious to keep their facilities completely full and
even to stretch capacity if possible. However, the relatively few farm expansions
currently underway kept replacement prices from shooting much higher.

The second quarter difference between a cow’s purchase price and salvage value was
just over $900, $200 less than during the strong expansion period in 2002. Farmers
probably saw the recent high milk prices as temporary in nature and largely
irrelevant to investment decisions."

Check the Heifers web page on the Missouri Dairymen's Resource Guide for the latest heifer prices in Missouri and around the country. An excel spreadsheet listing historical prices for dairy heifers by weight range at the Mammouth Cave Kentucky Dairy Sale is available as a free download.

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