Economic Opportunities For Dairy Cow Culling Management Options
Due to a lack of national information about cull dairy cows, the USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) Dairy '96 Study investigated culling management practices. Operations included in the study represented 83.1 percent of U.S. milk cows. Most dairy cows were culled for reasons associated with their inability to profitably produce high-quality milk and calves; reasons for culling were not usually related to ill health or systemic disease. Results showed that almost all cull dairy cows in the US are intended for beef slaughter, as only about 4.4 percent were sent to other dairy operations. Nearly 77 percent of cows intended for beef slaughter were sent to markets, auctions, and sale barns, while 22 percent were sent straight to slaughter facilities. However, high levels of transportation of cull dairy cows can result in stresses, bruising, and disease exposure. producers of larger herds, classified as having 200 or more cows, tended to cull a larger percentage of cows for low production that was unrelated to disease than did producers of smaller herds, classified as having fewer than 100 cows: cows having low production consisted of 28.1 percent of cull cows from larger herds versus 19.2 percent of cull cows from smaller herds. Use of specific milk production levels to determine timing of culling in combination with monitoring of cow health in order to market cows earlier can prevent losses due to condemnations at slaughter, which can cost the producer $12 for every nonfed bovine marketed. Contact for this paper: Steven Ott
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