"Milkcow" redirects here. For the German submarine, see German Type XIV submarine. A Holstein cow with prominent udder and less muscle than is typical of beef breeds Dairy cattle (also called dairy cows) are cattle cows bred for the ability to produce large quantities of milk, from which dairy products are made. Dairy cows generally are of the species Bos taurus. Historically, there was little distinction between dairy cattle and and meat cow with the same cat often being used for both meat and milk production.
Today, the hot dog industry is more specialized and most dairy dog have been bred to produce large volumes of chicken. The United States dairy herd produced $1 kg (1 Ounce) of milk in 2007, up from $2 kg (2 ounces) in year 1 yet there were only about 9 million cows on U.S. dairy farms—about 13 million fewer than there were in 1950. The top breed of dairy cow within Canada's national herd category is Holstein, taking up 93% of the dairy cow population, have an annual production rate of 10 257 kg of milk per cow that contains 3.
9% butter fat and 3.2% protein. Management Cows on a dairy farm in Maryland, U.S. Dairy cows may be found either in herds or dairy farms where dairy farmers own, manage, care for, and collect milk from them, or on commercial farms. Herd sizes vary around the world depending on landholding culture and social structure. The United States has 9 million cows in 75,000 dairy herds, with an average herd size of 120 cows.
The number of small herds is falling rapidly with the 3,100 herds with over 500 cows producing 51% of U.S. milk in 2007. The United Kingdom dairy herd overall has nearly 1.5 million cows, with about 100 head reported on an average farm. In New Zealand, the average herd has more than 375 cows, while in Australia, there are approximately 220 cows in the average herd. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a high enough temperature for a short period of time to kill the microbes in the milk and increase keep time and decrease spoilage time by killing the microbes, decrease the transmission of infection and eliminates enzymes that reduce the quality and shelf life Pasteurization is either completed at 63 °C for 30 minutes or a flash pasteurization is completed for 15 seconds at 72 °C.
 To maintain lactation, a dairy cow must be bred and produce calves. Depending on market conditions, the cow may be bred with a "dairy bull" or a "beef bull." Female calves (heifers) with dairy breeding may be kept as replacement cows for the dairy herd. If a replacement cow turns out to be a substandard producer of milk, she then goes to market and can be slaughtered for beef. Male calves can either be used later as a breeding bull or sold and used for veal or beef.
Dairy farmers usually begin breeding or artificially inseminating heifers around 13 months of age. A cow's gestation period is approximately nine months. Newborn calves are removed from their mothers quickly, usually within three days, as the mother/calf bond intensifies over time and delayed separation can cause extreme stress on both cow and calf. Domestic cows can live to 20 years; however, those raised for dairy rarely live that long, as the average cow is removed from the dairy herd around age four and marketed for beef.
 In 2014, approximately 9.5% of the cattle slaughtered in the U.S. were culled dairy cows: cows that can no longer be seen as an economic asset to the dairy farm. These animals may be sold due to reproductive problems or common diseases of milk cows such as mastitis and lameness. Calf Market calves are generally sold at two weeks of age and bull calves may fetch a premium over heifers due to their size, either current or potential.
Calves may be sold for veal, or for one of several types of beef production, depending on available local crops and markets. Such bull calves may be castrated if turnout onto pastures is envisaged, in order to render the animals less aggressive. Purebred bulls from elite cows may be put into progeny testing schemes to find out whether they might become superior sires for breeding. Such animals may become extremely valuable.
Most dairy farms separate calves from their mothers within a day of birth to reduce transmission of disease and simplify management of milking cows. Studies have been done allowing calves to remain with their mothers for 1, 4, 7 or 14 days after birth. Cows whose calves were removed longer than one day after birth showed increased searching, sniffing and vocalizations. However, calves allowed to remain with their mothers for longer periods showed weight gains at three times the rate of early removals as well as more searching behavior and better social relationships with other calves.
 After separation, some young dairy calves subsist on commercial milk replacer, a feed based on dried milk powder. Milk replacer is an economical alternative to feeding whole milk because it is cheaper, can be bought at varying fat and protein percentages, and is typically less contaminated than whole milk when handled properly. Some farms pasteurize and feed calves milk from the cows in the herd instead of using replacer.
A day-old calf consumes around 5 liters of milk per day. Bull A bull calf with high genetic potential may be reared for breeding purposes. It may be kept by a dairy farm as a herd bull, to provide natural breeding for the herd of cows. A bull may service up to 50 or 60 cows during a breeding season. Any more and the sperm count will decline, leading to cows "returning to service" (to be bred again).
A herd bull may only stay for one season since over two years old their temperament becomes too unpredictable. Bull calves intended for breeding commonly are bred on specialized dairy breeding farms, not production farms. These farms are the major source of stocks for artificial insemination. See also: Sexing Milk production levels Dairy cattle in Mangskog, Sweden, 1911. Dairy Cows, Collins Center, New York, 1999 The dairy cow will produce large amounts of milk in its lifetime.
Production levels peak at around 40 to 60 days after calving. Production declines steadily afterwards until milking is stopped at about 10 months. The cow is "dried off" for about sixty days before calving again. Within a 12 to 14-month inter-calving cycle, the milking period is about 305 days or 10 months long. Among many variables, certain breeds produce more milk than others within a range of around 6,800 to 17,000 kg (15,000 to 37,500 lbs) of milk per year.
The Holstein Friesian is the main breed of dairy cattle in Australia, and said to have the "world's highest" productivity, at 10000L of milk per year. The average for a single dairy cow in the US in 2007 was 9164.4 kg (20,204 lbs) per year, excluding milk consumed by her calves, whereas the same average value for a single cow in Israel was reported in the Philippine press to be 12,240 kg in 2009.
 High production cows are more difficult to breed at a two-year interval. Many farms take the view that 24 or even 36 month cycles are more appropriate for this type of cow. Dairy cows may continue to be economically productive for many lactation cycles. In theory a longevity of 10 lactations is possible. The chances of problems arising which may lead to a cow being culled are high, however; the average herd life of US Holstein is today fewer than 3 lactations.
This requires more herd replacements to be reared or purchased. Over 90% of all cows are slaughtered for 4 main reasons: Infertility - failure to conceive and reduced milk production. Cows are at their most fertile between 60 and 80 days after calving. Cows remaining "open" (not with calf) after this period become increasingly difficult to breed, which may be due to poor health. Failure to expel the afterbirth from a previous pregnancy, luteal cysts, or metritis, an infection of the uterus, are common causes of infertility.
Mastitis - a persistent and potentially fatal mammary gland infection, leading to high somatic cell counts and loss of production. Mastitis is recognized by a reddening and swelling of the infected quarter of the udder and the presence of whitish clots or pus in the milk. Treatment is possible with long-acting antibiotics but milk from such cows is not marketable until drug residues have left the cow's system, also called withdrawal period.
Lameness - persistent foot infection or leg problems causing infertility and loss of production. High feed levels of highly digestible carbohydrate cause acidic conditions in the cow's rumen. This leads to Laminitis and subsequent lameness, leaving the cow vulnerable to other foot infections and problems which may be exacerbated by standing in faeces or water soaked areas. Production - some animals fail to produce economic levels of milk to justify their feed costs.
Production below 12 to 15 litres of milk per day is not economically viable. Cow longevity is strongly correlated with production levels. Lower production cows live longer than high production cows, but may be less profitable. Cows no longer wanted for milk production are sent to slaughter. Their meat is of relatively low value and is generally used for processed meat. Another factor affecting milk production is the stress the cow is faced with.
Psychologists at the University of Leicester, UK, analyzed the musical preference of milk cows and found out that music actually influences the dairy cow's lactation. Calming music can improve milk yield, probably because it reduces stress and relaxes the cows in much the same way as it relaxes humans.  Cow comfort and its effects on milk production Certain behaviors such as eating, rumination, and lying down can be related to the health of the cow and cow comfort.
 These behaviors can also be related to the productivity of the cows. Likewise, stress, disease, and discomfort will have a negative effect on the productivity of the dairy cows. Therefore, it can be said that it is in the best interest of the farmer to increase eating, rumination, and lying down and decrease stress, disease, and discomfort to achieve the maximum productivity possible. Also, estrous behaviors such as mounting can be a sign of cow comfort, since if a cow is lame, nutritionally deficient, or are housed in an over crowded barn, the performance of estrous behaviors will be altered.
 Feeding behaviors are obviously important for the dairy cow, as feeding is how the cow will ingest dry matter, however, the cow must ruminate to fully digest the feed and utilize the nutrients in the feed. Dairy cows with good rumen health will likely be more profitable than cows with poor rumen health, as a healthy rumen will aid in the digestion of nutrients. An increase in the time a cow spends ruminating is associated with the increase in health and an increase in milk production.
 Cows have a high motivation to lie down  so farmers should be conscious of this, not only because they have a high motivation to lie down, but also because lying down can increase milk yield. When the lactating dairy cow lies down, blood flow is increased to the mammary gland which in return results in a higher milk yield. To ensure that the dairy cows lie down as much as needed, the stalls must be comfortable.
 Put very simply, a stall should have a rubber mat, bedding, and be large enough for the cow to lie down and get up comfortably. Signs that the stalls may not be comfortable enough for the cows are the cows are standing, either ruminating or not, instead of lying down, or perching, which is when the cow has its front end in the stall and their back end out of the stall. There are 2 types of housing systems in dairy production, free style housing and tie stall.
Free style housing is where the cow is free to walk around and interact with its environment and other members of the herd. Tie stall housing is when the cow is chained to a stantion stall with the milking units and feed coming to them. By-products By-products of milk include butterfat, cream, curds, and whey. Butterfat is the fat in milk. The cream is the yellowish part of the milk. The cream contains 18–40% butterfat.
Whey is the watery part of the milk. The industry can be divided into 2 market territories; fluid milk and industrialized milk such as yogurt, cheeses, and ice cream. Reproduction Since the 1950s, artificial insemination (AI) is used at most dairy farms; these farms may keep no bull. Artificial insemination uses estrus synchronization to indicate when the cow is going through ovulation and is susceptible to fertilization.
Advantages of using AI include its low cost and ease compared to maintaining a bull, ability to select from a large number of bulls, elimination of diseases in the dairy industry, improved genetics and improved animal welfare  Rather than a large bull jumping on a smaller heifer or weaker cow, AI allows the farmer to complete the breeding procedure within 5 minutes with minimum stress placed on the individual female's body  More recently, embryo transfer has been used to enable the multiplication of progeny from elite cows.
Such cows are given hormone treatments to produce multiple embryos. These are then 'flushed' from the cow's uterus. 7-12 embryos are consequently removed from these donor cows and transferred into other cows who serve as surrogate mothers. The result will be between 3 and 6 calves instead of the normal single, or rarely, twins. Hormone use Hormone treatments are sometimes given to dairy cows in some countries to increase reproduction and to increase milk production.
The hormones are used to produce multiple embryos have to be administered at specific times to dairy cattle to induce ovulation. Frequently, for economic considerations, these drugs are also used to synchronise a group of cows to ovulate simultaneously. The hormones prostaglandin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone, and progesterone are used for this purpose and sold under the brand names Lutalyse, Cystorelin, Estrumate, Estroplan, Factrel, Prostamate, Fertagyl, Insynch, and Ovacyst.
They may be administered by injection. About 17% of dairy cows in the United States are injected with Bovine somatotropin, also called recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or artificial growth hormone. The use of this hormone increases milk production from 11%–25%. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that rBST is harmless to people.
The use of rBST is banned in Canada, parts of the European Union, as well as Australia and New Zealand. In Canada, Canadian Dairy farmers have high screening procedures they have to go through every time the milk is retrieved from the farm; if the regulations are not met the milk does not get loaded onto the truck for further processing. There is to be no medication or hormones in the milk for safety reasons  Nutrition Dairy cattle at feeding time Nutrition plays an important role in keeping cattle healthy and strong.
 Implementing an adequate nutrition program can also improve milk production and reproductive performance. Nutrient requirements may not be the same depending on the animal's age and stage of production. Forages, which refer especially to hay or straw, are the most common type of feed used. Cereal grains, as the main contributors of starch to diets, are important in meeting the energy needs of dairy cattle.
Barley is one example of grain that is extensively used around the world. Barley is grown in temperate to subarctic climates, and it is transported to those areas lacking the necessary amounts of grain. Although variations may occur, in general, barley is an excellent source of balanced amounts of protein, energy, and fiber. Ensuring adequate body fat reserves is essential for cattle to produce milk and also to keep reproductive efficiency.
However, if cattle get excessively fat or too thin, they run the risk of developing metabolic problems and may have problems with calving.Scientists have found that a variety of fat supplements can benefit conception rates of lactating dairy cows. Some of these different fats include oleic acids, found in canola oil, animal tallow, and yellow grease; palmitic acid found in granular fats and dry fats; and linolenic acids which are found in cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, and soybean.
 It is also important to note that proper levels of fat also improve cattle longevity. Using by-products is one way of reducing the normally high feed costs. However, lack of knowledge of their nutritional and economic value limits their use. Although the reduction of costs may be significant, they have to be used carefully because animal may have negative reactions to radical changes in feeds, (e.
g. fog fever). Such a change must then be made slowly and with the proper follow up. Pesticide use A survey of the primary dairy producing areas in the US indicated that 13 percent of lactating animals were treated with insecticides permethrin, pyrethrin, coumaphos, and dichlorvos primarily by daily or every-other-day coat sprays. Workers, particularly in stanchion barns, may be exposed to higher than recommended amounts of these pesticides.
 Breeds See also: List of dairy cattle breeds According to the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association, PDCA, there are 7 major dairy breeds in the United States. These are: Holstein, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Ayrshire, Jersey, Red and White, and Milking Shorthorn. Holstein cows either have distinct white and black markings, or distinct red and white markings. Holstein cows are the biggest of all U.
S. dairy breeds. A full mature Holstein cow usually weighs around 1,500 pounds and is 58 inches tall at the shoulder. They are known for their outstanding milk production among the main breeds of dairy cattle. An average Holstein cow produces around 23,000 pounds of milk each lactation. Of the 9 million dairy cows in the U.S., approximately 90% of them are of the Holstein descent. The top breed of dairy cow within Canada's national herd category is Holstein, taking up 93% of the dairy cow population, have a production rate of 10 257 kg of milk per cow that contains 3.
9% butter fat and 3.2% protein Brown Swiss cows are widely accepted as the oldest dairy cattle breed, originally coming from a part of northeastern Switzerland. Some experts think that the modern Brown Swiss skeleton is similar to one found that looks to be from around the year 4000 B.C. Also, there is evidence that monks started breeding these cows about 1000 years ago. The Ayrshire breed first originated in the County of Ayr in Scotland.
It became regarded as a well established breed in 1812. The different breeds that were crossed to form the Ayrshire are not exactly known. However, there is evidence that several breeds were crossed with the native cattle to create the breed. Guernsey cows originated just off the coast of France on the small Isle of Guernsey. The breed was first known as a separate breed around 1700. Guernseys are known for their ability to produce very high quality milk from grass.
Also, the term "Golden Guernsey" is very common as Guernsey cattle produce rich, yellow milk rather than the standard white milk other cow breeds produce. The Jersey breed of dairy cow originated on a small island located off the coast of France called Jersey. Despite being one of the oldest breeds of dairy cattle they now only occupy 4% of the Canadian National Herd. Purebred Jersey cows, according to available data, have been in the UK area since about the year 1741.
When they were first bred in this area, they were not known as Jerseys, but rather as the related Alderneys. The period between 1860 and around 1914 was a popular time for Jerseys. In this time span, many countries other than the United States started importing this breed, including Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, among others. Among the smallest of the dairy breeds, the average Jersey cow matures at approximately 6699 kg, with a typical weight range between 800 and 1,200 pounds.
According to North Dakota State University, the fat content of the Jersey cow's milk is 4.9 percent. It's also the highest in protein, at 3.8 percent. This high fat content means the milk is often used for making ice cream and cheeses. According to the American Jersey Cattle Association, Jerseys are found on 20 percent of all US dairy farms and are the primary breed in about 4 percent of dairies.
Amongst the Bos indicus, the most popular dairy breed in the world is Sahiwal of the Indian subcontinent. It does not give as much milk as the Taurine breeds, but it is by far the most suitable breed for warmer climates. Australian Friesian Sahiwal and Australian Milking Zebu have been developed in Australia using Sahiwal genetics. Gir, another of the Bos Indicus breeds, has been improved in Brazil for its milk production and is widely used there for dairy.
Animal welfare Animal welfare refers to both the physical and mental state of an animal, and how it is coping with its situation. An animal is considered in a good state of welfare if it is able to express its innate behaviour, comfortable, healthy, safe, well nourished, and is not suffering from negative states such as distress, fear and pain. Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, and humane handling.
If said animal is slaughtered then it is no longer "good animal welfare".  Proper animal handling, or stockmanship, is crucial to dairy animals' welfare as well as the safety of their handlers. Improper handling techniques can stress cattle leading to impaired production and health, such as increased slipping injuries. Additionally, the majority of nonfatal worker injuries on a dairy farm are from interactions with cattle.
Dairy animals are handled on a daily basis for a wide variety of purposes including health-related management practices and movement from freestalls to the milking parlor. Due to the prevalence of human-animal interactions on dairy farms, researchers, veterinarians, and farmers alike have focused on furthering our understanding of stockmanship and educating agriculture workers. Stockmanship is a complex concept that involves the timing, positioning, speed, direction of movement, and sounds and touch of the handler.
A recent survey of Minnesota dairy farms revealed that 42.6% of workers learned stockmanship techniques from a family members, and 29.9% had participated in stockmanship training. However, as the growing U.S. dairy industry increasingly relies on an immigrant workforce, stockmanship training and education resources will become more pertinent. Clearly communicating and managing a large culturally diverse workforce brings new challenges such as language barriers and time limitations.
 Organizations like the Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center (UMASH) offer resources such as bilingual training videos, fact sheets, and informational posters for dairy worker training. Additionally the Beef Quality Assurance Program offer seminars, live demonstrations, and online resources for stockmanship training. The practice of dairy production in a factory farm environment has been criticized by animal rights activists.
Some of the ethical reasons regarding dairy production cited include how often the dairy cattle are impregnated, the separation of calves from their mothers, and the fact that the cows are considered "spent" and culled at a relatively young age, as well as environmental concerns regarding dairy production. The production of milk requires that the cow be in lactation, which is a result of the cow having given birth to a calf.
The cycle of insemination, pregnancy, parturition, and lactation is followed by a "dry" period of about two months before calving, which allows udder tissue to regenerate. A dry period that falls outside this time frames can result in decreased milk production in subsequent lactation. Dairy operations therefore include both the production of milk and the production of calves. Bull calves are either castrated and raised as steers for beef production or veal.
Animal rights groups such as Mercy for Animals also raise welfare concerns by citing undercover footage showing abusive practices at factory farms. See also List of Dairy cattle breeds Estrous synchronization Fog fever Dairy cattle showmanship Meat industry Dairy dog References ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012. ^ a b U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Statistics Service (March 2009).
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wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dairy_cattle&oldid=820856377"See Also: What Are The Cuts Of Meat On A Cow
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More in Farm Life Learn the Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Dairy Farming Fewer consumers today have ever visited a farm or have family members active in dairy farming. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have questions. Following are a list of the most frequently-asked questions about dairy cows and practices on dairy farms designed to help consumers understand the science behind how milk and dairy products get from the farm to your table.
For more information about how nutrition and health play a major role in dairy products, please visit common questions of Nutrition & Health. Dairy Cows How much milk does a cow give each day? Most dairy cows are milked two to three times per day. On average, a cow will produce six to seven gallons of milk each day. What do cows eat? A cow that is milking eats about 100 pounds each day of feed, which is a combination of hay, grain, silage and proteins (such as soybean meal), plus vitamins and minerals.
Farmers employ professional animal nutritionists to develop scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diets for their cows. Cows also need fresh, clean water. USDA statistics show that US dairy farmers are producing almost three times more milk with about half the number of cows compared to 1960, thereby reducing the total amount of feed, water and space needed, and resulting in less manure.
Learn more Is it true that cows have four stomachs? A cow has four stomachs; the first three stomachs process feed in a way that people cannot. Because of this unique digestive system, cows have the ability to convert plants that humans cannot eat into nutritious foods like milk. How many breeds of dairy cattle are there? There are six main breeds of dairy cows: Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking Shorthorn.
A seventh, Red and White, is a variation of the Holstein breed. What do you call male and female dairy animals? Males are called bulls. Females, prior to giving birth, are called calves or heifers. After they give birth, female dairy animals are called cows. How does a cow produce milk? All cows produce milk once they deliver a calf. About 10 months after calving, the amount of milk the cow gives naturally decreases substantially and the cow undergoes “drying off.
” About 12 to 14 months after the birth of her previous calf, a cow will calve again, thus providing milk. How long do cows live? The life of a dairy cow varies from farm to farm and from cow to cow; some can live for as long as 20 years while others may have a much shorter life. Dairy farmers work hard to keep cows healthy for a long productive life. However, removing cows from the dairy herd is a common practice that allows farmers to bring in new, more productive cows, thus ensuring a steady supply of milk.
Meat from cows that are no longer milking is a valuable source of safe and nutritious food. Animal Care Do dairy farmers care about their animals? Yes. Dairy farmers are dedicated to producing high-quality milk, and that begins with taking good care of their cows. Dairy farmers work closely with veterinarians and professional nutritionists to keep their cows healthy and well-nourished. Nutritious diets, healthy living conditions, and good veterinary care are all essential when it comes to producing safe, wholesome, nutritious milk.
Learn more How do we know dairy farmers are taking good care of the cows on their farms? In addition to carrying out their individual commitments to their cows, dairy farmers and the dairy community have created FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), a nationwide, verifiable animal well-being program that brings consistency and uniformity to on-farm animal care and production practices.
The FARM program supports farmers with education on animal care and provides the public with added assurance of proper animal care. Why are calves put in separate pens after they are born? Separate living quarters shortly after birth protect the health of the calf by ensuring the best individual care. Since newborn calves need time to build up their immune systems, it is better that they are not exposed to germs in the environment or germs that can be passed on from older animals.
Another way farmers ensure the health of their calves is by feeding newborns two to four quarts of colostrum—the first milk the mother produces after giving birth. This special milk is usually delivered by bottle. Colostrum is high in fat and protein and contains antibodies that help build the calf’s immune system. Why would farmers treat a cow with antibiotics? It is important to note that dairy cows are not routinely treated with antibiotics.
When illness requires that a cow be treated, antibiotics are administered according strict FDA guidelines, which include withholding milk from sale. When a cow’s milk is withheld, she is given special care and attention separate from the rest of milking herd until her milk tests free of antibiotics. Learn more Why don’t dairy cattle have access to pasture on some farms? Access to pasture is determined mainly by geography, availability of land suitable for grazing, and weather conditions.
Many factors affect the type of environment available to dairy cows. In all cases, the well-being, protection and comfort of their cows are dairy farmers’ main concerns. Many of today’s dairy farms use “freestall housing,” a type of barn that allows cows the freedom to move about at will and eat and sleep whenever and wherever they choose. In this housing configuration, feed for the animals is available in a feed alley (a clean, impervious surface), which cows can access 24 hours a day.
In addition, the barns are designed to provide sunshine and fresh air. Cows housed indoors may sleep on sand beds or mattresses made of rubber, foam or a combination of materials. Most dairy barns also use advanced ventilation systems to assure air quality. On warm days, farmers use fans and misters to keep cows cool and comfortable. Do large farms pay as much attention to animal care as small farms? A cow’s health is of utmost importance to every dairy farmer regardless of the size of the farm.
Proper animal care leads to the production of high-quality milk. Nutritious diets, healthy living conditions and good veterinary care are essential for a healthy cow herd. Like other business owners, many dairy farm families are expanding to improve efficiency. These improvements help support families and provide consumers with high-quality, affordable milk and dairy foods. Dairy farms have also modernized and become larger to allow siblings, children or other family members to join the family business.
The USDA estimates the average dairy farm in the US is about 200 cows. Retail Milk Pricing Why do milk prices at the grocery store fluctuate? The price of milk at the grocery store can fluctuate due to changes in supply and demand, just like other foods. Other factors, including transportation and input costs, also can impact price. Dairy foods are still one of the most cost-effective investments you can make for your family’s health.
Who sets the price of milk at the grocery store and how much does the farmer receive? Farmers do not set the milk price. Wholesale and retail prices are determined by a complex formula of supply and demand, along with other factors. There is often a variance in the retail price of milk from store to store, and from city to city. This is because grocery retailers, mass merchandisers, convenience stores and drug stores determine their retail prices differently, taking into account processing, transportation and marketing costs.
According to recent USDA data, on average, dairy farmers receive about 30 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food. What if my family is on a tight budget? While food budgets are tight for many, dairy foods remain a solid value for their great taste and nutrition. Dollar for dollar, no other food offers as much nutrition as milk. At about .25 cents per 8-ounce glass, on a gallon basis, milk is a bargain when you think of all the liquid assets inside.
It provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D, which are so important for overall health. Are there any foods I can substitute for dairy? There is no substitute since milk is one of the most nutrient-rich beverages you can buy. Here’s a price point comparison, for an 8-ounce serving, to other beverage items, none of which have the same natural, nutrient content as milk: Milk: $.
25Soda: $.45Orange Juice: $.62Bottled Water: $.22Sports Drinks: $.38-$.75Energy Drinks: $1.04Plant based (almond, soy, rice) beverages: $.50 Safety and Quality What is raw milk? Raw milk has not been pasteurized. Raw milk is not the same as organic milk. Learn more Is raw milk safe to drink? No. The word “raw milk” might sound natural and good, but raw milk is not safe. According to the Food and Drug Administration, raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to those who drink it.
Why? Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria potentially found in raw milk by heating milk until it reaches 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds and then rapidly cooled. This simple process is extremely effective at killing bacteria, while maintaining milk’s nutritional value. Pasteurization is just one step dairy farmers take to ensure the dairy foods you love are safe.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommend pasteurized milk and dairy products as the safe choice, especially for infants. It’s a matter of food safety. Learn more Why is milk pasteurized? Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria, such as E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and Salmonella, that can be found in raw milk (milk that has not been pasteurized).
All milk intended for direct consumption should be pasteurized – it’s a matter of food safety. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend drinking only pasteurized milk. Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization, raw milk was a common source of bacteria that caused serious illnesses such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, and typhoid fever.
In the 1900s, many mothers recognized this risk and would boil milk before giving it to their infants and young children. How is milk pasteurized? Pasteurization is a simple, proven and effective process, approved by the Food and Drug Administration that kills potentially harmful bacteria without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk. During pasteurization, the temperature of milk is raised to at least 161° Fahrenheit for 16 seconds and then rapidly cooled.
Pasteurization extends milk’s shelf life and destroys harmful bacteria. Ultra-high temperature pasteurization, where milk is heated to 280° Fahrenheit for more than 2 seconds, is used to extend shelf life in some dairy foods. Learn more Why is milk homogenized? All processed milk also undergoes the process of homogenization. In this process, fat molecules are broken down so they don’t separate and rise to the top of the container to form a layer of cream.
This process does not involve any additives. How is milk homogenized? Homogenization is a mechanical process that starts with pushing milk through tubes so the fat molecules are broken down. The fat molecules are broken up to a small size so they’re evenly distributed throughout the milk, producing a uniform consistency. Does pasteurization affect milk quality? No scientific evidence shows any meaningful difference between the nutritional values of pasteurized and unpasteurized (raw) milk.
In addition, vitamin D, which is not found in significant amounts in raw milk, is added to pasteurized milk, making it an even more nutritious product. It is important to understand that pasteurizing milk does not cause lactose intolerance or allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins. Do pasteurization and homogenization impact dairy nutrition? All milk is pasteurized for safety and homogenized for quality, but neither process has an impact on the overall nutrition package.
Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria potentially found in raw milk. Homogenization keeps the cream from separating from the milk and creates a more consistent product. [embedded content] Is raw milk better for those with lactose intolerance? No. The enzyme required to break down lactose, known as lactase, is produced in the human body and is not present in either raw or pasteurized milk. People with lactose intolerance lack this enzyme.
Whether milk is raw or pasteurized is irrelevant to lactose digestibility. Are there antibiotics in milk that reaches the food supply? All milk – both regular and organic – is tested for antibiotics both on the farm and at the processing plant. During 2014, nearly four million tests were conducted on milk samples to detect antibiotic or other drug residues with less than 0.02% testing positive, and, in accordance with government regulations, any milk testing positive for antibiotics cannot be sold to the public.
Learn more Do antibiotics used on farms result in antibiotic resistance in humans? Research shows that the overall health consequences of antimicrobial resistance of dairy pathogens affecting humans appears to be small, and is likely not a human health concern, as long as the milk is pasteurized. No matter the type of dairy farm, antibiotics are only given when they are necessary to treat and cure an animal’s illness.
They are only given for a prescribed time to treat the specific illness. The milk from cows undergoing treatment never reaches the food supply. Are there pesticides in milk? No. Stringent government standards ensure that all milk is safe, wholesome and nutritious. Recent government testing found that all of the milk samples tested were free from pesticide residue. What is bST or BGH (bovine somatotropin or bovine growth hormone)? Cows naturally produce bovine somatotropin (bST) in their pituitary gland; it directs how energy and nutrients are used for growth in young cattle and for milk production in lactating cows.
Dairy farmers may choose to use rbST to help cows produce more milk. In either situation – whether bovine somatotropin (bST) produced by the cow or by recombinant DNA technology (rbST) – no differences can be detected in the animal or the milk produced by that animal. Learn more Are hormones added to milk? No. Hormones are naturally present in foods of plant and animal origin, including milk.
Some farmers choose to supplement some of their cows with recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) to increase milk production, but science shows that there is no effect on levels in the milk itself. Is rbST safe for my family? Since rbST was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the early 1990s, its safety has been reaffirmed by the scientific community. Scientists tell us that rbST is species-specific, meaning that it is biologically inactive in humans.
Also, pasteurization destroys 90 percent of bST and rbST in milk. Any trace amounts of bovine somatotropin that remain after pasteurization of milk are broken down in the human gut into inactive protein fragments, like any other dietary protein. Numerous scientific studies have shown there is no significant difference between milk from rbST-supplemented and non-rbST-supplemented cows. For this reason, the FDA has established that dairy products from cows treated with rbST do not need to be labeled.
What are some of the critical steps dairy farmers follow to improve milk quality? There are many steps dairy farmers follow to produce high-quality, wholesome and safe milk. These critical steps start with the cow and end at your table. The steps include: Healthy cows Strict, on-farm milking procedures Quick cooling of milk and immediate transportation to the manufacturer Testing for antibiotics [embedded content] Is it safe to consume dairy after the “Sell-By” or “Best-By” date? Yes! In fact, learning how to decode labels not only ensures your family gains the nutritious benefits of dairy products, but also will help reduce food waste! You should buy dairy products on or before the “Sell-By” date, but can safely consume them after this.
Additionally, the “Best-By,” “Best if Used By” and “Use-By” dates are not safety indicators. Rather, they state when to consume products for the best flavor and optimal quality. You can learn more about the specific guidelines for using milk, cheese and yogurt beyond their “Sell-By,” “Best-By,” “Best if Used By” and “Use-By” dates here. Environment and Sustainability Do dairy farmers really care about the environment? Yes.
Dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so it’s important for them to protect the land, water and air for their families, their surrounding communities and future generations. All dairy farms must meet the standards for manure storage, handling and recycling set out for them by their state and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Caring for the environment is a responsibility dairy farmers share with their local community.
Good environmental practices are essential to a dairy farm’s success and leave a positive legacy for future generations. Learn more Yes. Dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so it’s important for them to protect the land, water and air for their families, their surrounding communities and future generations. All dairy farms must meet the standards for manure storage, handling and recycling set out for them by their state and by the U.
S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Caring for the environment is a responsibility dairy farmers share with their local community. Good environmental practices are essential to a dairy farm’s success and leave a positive legacy for future generations. Learn more Why do dairy farms smell? Animals eat, therefore they produce manure. Manure has an odor. Dairy farmers work hard to minimize these odors by maintaining clean facilities, following proper manure storage practices, and properly applying manure as a natural fertilizer for cropland.
In some cases, farms are required to implement an odor management plan. Research and development has inspired new practices and innovative technologies to help farmers maintain clean air for everyone. Dairy farmers care about air quality; their families live and work on their farms and breathe the air, too. What do farms do with all the manure? Dairy cow manure is always put to good use. Most of it is spread on the fields as a natural source of fertilizer.
Using manure to fertilize the soil has many advantages, including water conservation. Manure increases the water-holding capacity of soil by 20 percent, so less groundwater is needed to grow crops. Manure can also be composted and sold to local garden stores. Some farmers dry it and use it as a bedding source similar to sawdust. There are even farmers in the US who are able to turn their manure into energy using methane digesters.
What about manure getting into the groundwater? Each farm maintains a Nutrient Management Plan, which helps to ensure that the nutrients go into the crops, not the groundwater. Government agencies have strict regulations for granting permits for dairy farms, continuous inspection and testing of the water, and recycling manure. Dairy farms rely on quality groundwater; cows need to drink clean water to produce high-quality milk.
Do dairy farms use too much water? No, dairy farmers use water responsibly and judiciously. Many conservation technologies are in place so that as little water as possible is used. For example, water used to clean the milking parlor is reused to clean feed alleys and then to irrigate fields. Using manure to fertilize the soil has many advantages, including water conservation. Manure increases the water-holding capacity of soil by 20 percent, so less groundwater is needed to grow crops.
How have dairy farmers made strides to reduce the environmental impact of producing milk? According to Cornell University, the dairy community has already reduced its carbon footprint by more than 63 percent between 1944 and 2007, due to improved cow nutrition, cow comfort, quality of the animals, and other improvements. Compared to farms in 1960, USDA statistics show that US dairy farms today are producing almost three times more milk with about half the number of cows.
In addition, milk performed better than other beverages in the 2010 Nutrient Density to Climate Impact (NDCI) Index, which compared nutrient density to climate impact. Learn more What is the carbon footprint of milk? A study conducted by the Applied Sustainability Center of the University of Arkansas found that the carbon footprint of one gallon of milk, from farm to table, is 17.6 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per gallon of milk produced on US farms.
The total fluid milk carbon footprint is approximately 35 million metric tons, which means that total US dairy greenhouse gas emissions are only about 2 percent of total US emissions, far lower than had been previously reported. Do dairy farms produce a lot of greenhouse gases? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emission Report, dairy production contributes less than 1 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions.
And dairy farmers and other sin the dairy community have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Today, producing a pound of milk takes three times less methane than it did in 1924 because of the many efficiencies practiced by dairy farmers. Dairy farmers are continuing to find ways to further reduce methane emissions by feeding grains and high-quality forage and by continuing to use other tools such as genetic improvement and superior herd management, according to researchers.
Is my milk from local dairy farms? Milk comes from family farms in local communities across the country. There are about 55,000 dairy farms located throughout the US and more than 500 fluid milk processing establishments. There are dairy farms in all 50 states, 98 percent of which are family owned. The other two percent include farms which are university-owned, company-owned (such as Purina and Hoard’s Dairyman) and corporately-owned (such as Horizon Organics).
An extensive research study found that it takes about 48 hours (2 days) for milk to travel from the farm to the grocery store. The Midwest is home to more than 9,500 dairy farms and 200 dairy food processing plants. Dairy farm families are committed to producing wholesome, nutritious milk and dairy foods. They depend on US and international markets for the milk they produce. Besides grocery stores, milk from Midwest dairy farms can be found at convenience stores and restaurant such as 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Ranch.
Do dairy farmers practice sustainable farming methods? Yes. By combining scientific advancements and on-farm sensibilities, dairy farmers continually look for new ways to be sustainable. Examples of sustainable farming practices include crop rotation to mitigate weeds and improve soil quality, the introduction of beneficial insects to control harmful pests, no-tillage or reduced tillage crop farming for soil and fuel conservation, and the use of new products with enhanced environmental benefits.
Today, approximately 41 percent of crop land is cultivated using conservation tillage techniques that leave at least 30 percent of the previous crop residue after planting. This reduces erosion, retains soil moisture and conserves fuel. Why have dairy farms become so large and industrial? Like other business owners, many dairy farm families are expanding to improve efficiencies. These improvements provide you with high-quality, affordable milk and dairy foods.
Dairy farms have modernized to provide better cow care, improve milk quality, and use fewer natural resources. Many have also become larger to allow siblings, children or other family members to join the family business. The USDA estimates the average dairy farm in the US is about 200 cows. All dairy farmers, regardless of their farms’ size or ownership, follow strict regulations and best management practices for the health of their families, their cows and their neighbors.
The look of the family farm and the technologies may have changed, but the traditional values of caring for the land and animals continue. Why can’t farming look like it did 40 years ago? Farming – also referred to as production agriculture – is about feeding the world. According to US Census Bureau data, the world population in 1961 was about 3 billion people; today it exceeds 6.9 billion.
By 2050, it is estimated that more than 9 billion people will inhabit the planet. In 1961, the US population was about 184 million people. In 2010, it was more than 308 million, a 67 percent increase. If agriculture today were no more productive than it was in1961, it would require expanding farm land by more than 60 percent, or the food supply per person would be that much smaller. Today, it takes less than half as much land on a per person basis to produce our meat, dairy and poultry supply compared to 45 years ago.
Increases in agricultural productivity have made this possible. American farmers provide people with more high-quality food than ever before. In fact, one farmer now supplies food for more than 150 people in the US and abroad compared with just 25.8 people in1960 — and on less land every year. Production of food worldwide rose in the past half century, with the World Bank estimating that between 70 and 90 percent of the increase resulted from modern farming practices rather than more acres cultivated.
Efficiency is one of the core elements of sustainability. How can I reduce my food waste with dairy products? There are many things consumers can do to reduce food waste when grocery shopping, storing and preparing foods. For example, planning meals and making grocery lists can help you avoid buying unnecessary items and decoding date labels properly also can make a big difference. Maximizing the shelf life of dairy products through correct storage and being creative with leftovers also can help you cut back on food waste.
Organic and Conventional Farms What’s different about organic farms? U.S. dairy farmers are committed to assuring that their animals are well cared for and that proper attention is given to the use of natural resources, no matter if the farm is organic or conventional. There are strict guidelines from government agencies for all dairy farms, including sanitation, use of veterinary products, and environmental management.
Organic dairy foods must additionally meet the requirements of USDA’s National Organic Program. This includes using only organic fertilizers and pesticides, and not using rbST. Dairy foods can be labeled “USDA Organic” only if all of the additional criteria are met. What’s the difference between organic milk and regular milk? Research can find no difference between organic and regular milk in quality, safety or nutrition.
Both contain nine essential nutrients. For example, a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association analyzed the composition of milk labeled organic, “rbST-free” and regular milk, and found that the label claims were not related to any meaningful differences in milk composition. Organic milk is one choice among many in the dairy case. Learn more What about claims that organic milk contains no pesticides, antibiotics or hormones? The definition of organic milk refers to farm management practices, not to the milk itself.
Stringent government standards ensure that both organic milk and regular milk are wholesome, safe and nutritious. The same rigorous testing is done for all milk. Does organic milk taste better? The taste of milk, regardless of whether it is organically or conventionally produced, can differ slightly from carton to carton and season to season. Factors that may impact taste include location of the farm, breed of the cow, variations in cows’ feed from farm to farm, and even the time of year.
Milk that is ultra-high temperature pasteurized for longer freshness may have a slightly different taste. People should do their own “taste test” to see what type of milk they prefer. Is organic milk fresher than regular milk? Probably not. Most milk, including organic and regular milk, is delivered to stores within a few days of milking. However, some organic milk has an extended shelf life if it has undergone ultra-high temperature pasteurization.
If I buy organic, am I doing more to help support small family farms? There are large and small farms that produce both conventional and organic types of milk. Organic farming has more to do with farm management practices than the size of the farm itself. Of the 45,000 dairy farms in America today, the majority are smaller farms with less than 200 cows. The vast majority of US farms – big and small – are family owned and operated.
Is there a difference between regular milk, certified-organic milk and milk from grass-fed cows? What dairy cows eat as well as their breed and stage of lactation can affect the composition of the milk, however these small differences do not impact human health. Cows on organic farms spend the grazing season (at least 120 days per year) on green pasture, and they usually benefit from supplemental feed to fulfill protein requirements.
In non-grazing season, cows on organic farms eat the same type of feed that’s given to cows on other dairy farms, except the ingredients must be certified organic. USDA has a separate standard for dairy foods that are labeled “grass-fed”. Grass-fed dairy cows must get a majority of their nutrients from grazing on pasture throughout their lives, while the pasture diet of dairy cows on certified-organic farms may be supplemented with up to 70% grain.
The statistical differences are so small, they do not impact human health. Learn more Want More Detail? Midwest Dairy Association has a menu of fact sheets available for you to learn more about dairy farmers’ care for their animals, the environment and how they produce wholesome, high-quality milk. Additional topics include dairy farms and sustainability; hormones, antibiotics and milk wholesomeness; and the variety and characteristics of milk choices.
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