February 7, 2016

Despite drought, no decline in dairy cow numbers in 2012 (AUDIO)

Last year’s drought might have affected crops, but a University of Missouri study says it didn’t affect Missouri’s dairy cow numbers.

The state’s beef cow numbers have dropped five percent, but there is no decline in dairy cow numbers for 2012 despite the statewide drought. Extension economist Joe Horner with the University of Missouri says the steady dairy cattle numbers come as a surprise to him and says it’s a really good thing that the year started and ended with the same number of dairy cows.

“A lot of dairy producers are beginning to hit the retirement age and demographically, we know we’re going to see a lot of exits from the industry,” he said. “So, we’ve been used to losing 2,000 to 5,000 dairy cows a year over the last 20 years and this year, even with the drought we did not see a loss.”

Horner says however, it was particularly difficult for dairy producers in Southwest Missouri where they faced a second year of drought. “Feed costs were sky high the first half of the year and the milk price had not risen enough to compensate for the feed cost,” he said. “Producers had to buy forage because they couldn’t raise forage crops. So we actually did see over 10 percent loss in the number of dairy farms.”

Horner says while it’s not having much of an effect now, both meat and milk will be in short supply in years later on.


AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (0:58)