Culling jumps, but replacements move in, too

USDA estimated 275,300 culled dairy cows were slaughtered under federal inspection in August 2012, up 36,300 from July 2012 and 30,700 more than August 2011. Through the first eight months of 2012, cull cow slaughter totaled 2.038 million head, up 128,200 from the same period in 2011. 

While cull cow slaughter topped 2 million head between January-August 2012, the U.S. dairy herd shrunk by only 22,000 head, indicating a large number of replacement heifers moved into milking strings.