Abstract Data on parity, disease, farmers' stated primary reasons for culling and stage of lactation at diagnosis and at culling were used to describe patterns of culling in Holstein lactations from 34 New York herds. Of 7763 lactations, 18.7% ended in culling [death (95 cows), sales for dairy purposes (104 cows), or slaughter]. The culling rates for specific reasons were: dairy purposes 1.3%, low production 3.8%, reproduction 4.8%, udder problems 4.0%, feet and legs 1.2%, old age 0.3%, accidents 0.3% and miscellaneous reasons 2.9%. Culling increased with parity (at least through Lactation 6) and primarily was due to production, reproduction and udder problems. Culling for these 3 reasons peaked immediately after calving, again between 151 and 240 days post-partum (poor milk production) and at 240 days post-partum (poor reproductive performance). First-lactation cows sold for dairy use tended to be sold in early lactation. Death in older cows usually occurred early in lactation and was due to udder problems or to miscellaneous causes. Compared to lactations without the disease, lactations with a diagnosis of downer cow, clinical mastitis or treat problems were 3.5, 2.0 and 2.7 times more likely to end in culling, respectively. Among cows diagnosed with a disease and culled, many were culled the same day or within 30 days of the diagnosis. Such “immediate” culling upon diagnosis was especially typical of cows with milk fever, downer cow syndrome, left displaced abomasum, teat problems, and foot and leg problems (and for some cases of clinical mastitis), implying that these disorders led to “forced” culling, which was particularly costly to the farmers.