AMES, Iowa – Dairy producers may have an opportunity to fill in beef supply gaps with the US cattle herd at an all-time low.

Industry analysts say now is a good time for dairy producers to consider culling their herds. Garry Crosby, director of livestock marketing for the National Farmers Organization, said there are reasons to begin dairy cow culls now that go beyond strong consumer and export demand for beef.

Marketed cow numbers are lower than usual, which means prices will be higher. Also, Midwest capacity to market cull cows is expected to fall 3,000 head per day because of processing plant closures.

In July, the US Department of Agriculture reported cattle on feed declined 2 percent, while feedlot placements dropped 6 percent. Also, marketings of fed cattle during June slipped 2 percent to 1.85 million head, the lowest fed cattle marketings for the month of June since the agency began its cattle on feed report in 1996.