Market Dairy Cows
Market dairy cows represent an important part of the total U.S. beef supply. According to USDA survey results, more than 95 percent of market dairy cows go directly to harvest after culling, and represent about 8 percent to 10 percent of the beef produced in the United States annually. These data suggest that few dairies attempt to add value to market cows prior to harvest by improving their marketability.
Market dairy cows provide a year-round supply of beef to consumers. In recent years, the value of market cows has increased substantially due in part to an increasing trend for market cow carcasses to be fabricated into whole muscle and higher valued cuts. However, quality defects present in market cows and carcasses can lead to a reduction in their overall quality and value. Currently, market signals are not adequately conveying information back to dairy farmers to influence the characteristics present in market dairy cows sold at an auction market after culling.
Several checkoff-funded research projects have evaluated the quality and value of market dairy cows and carcasses. Click here for more information about these research projects.