Touching You


History of Dairy Industry

  • In the early 1600s immigrants brought cattle with them from Europe to supply their families with dairy products and meat.
  • In rural America, milk and milk products were made primarily for home or local use. However, with the movement of population from the farms to the cities at the turn of the century, it became necessary to mass produce and improve the quality of milk.
  • Significant inventions such as commercial milk bottles, milking machines, tuberculin tests for cattle, pasteurization equipment, refrigerated milk tank cars, and automatic bottling machines contributed towards making milk a healthful and commercially viable product.
  • In addition to education, regulations were necessary to ensure a safe food supply. With the passage of the Meat Inspection Act of 1890 and amendment of 1906, Congress authorized USDA inspectors to enforce standards of sanitation and hygiene in the meat and dairy industries.
  • Today, dairy farming uses the latest scientific research to provide consumers with a safe product while also boosting efficiency, taking care of their animals and protecting our environment and natural resources.

Common Misconceptions

  • The reason milk prices are going up at the grocery store is so dairy farmers can get rich.
    • Fact- On average, dairy farmers receive 30 cents of every retail dollar. Today’s recent price increases for dairy, and all foods, beverages and other goods, are tied to dramatic increases in energy/fuel, distribution, transportation, feed, and other supply costs. These on-farm price increases have left slim margins for dairy farmers in recent years.
  • Milk contains antibiotics.
    • Fact- All milk is carefully tested for antibiotics. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately, and does not enter into the food supply.
  • Dairy cows are treated like nothing more than milk machines.
    • Fact- Dairy cows must be healthy and well cared for in order to produce pure, wholesome milk.
  • Dairy cows are kept in cramped, dirty quarters without access to the outdoors.
    • Fact- Cow comfort is very important to dairy farmers. Ensuring that clean, dry bedding is available to cows at all times, in addition to providing healthy living conditions, are top priorities to dairy farmers.

Source: Dairy Farming Today

Fun Facts

Did you know…

  • Almost all dairy farms are family-owned.
  • A dairy cow can’t give milk until she has had a calf.
  • In an average day, a dairy cow will eat about 90 pounds of feed, drink a bathtub full of water and produce 5 to 6 gallons of milk. That’s about 80 glasses of milk!
  • Cows can spend up to 8 hours of their day eating.

Breeds of Dairy Cows

There are six main breeds of dairy cows.

  • Holstein
    • This breed originated in Europe and was brought to the U.S. by Dutch settlers.
    • This breed has the highest milk production of all dairy breeds.
    • The Holstein is the dominant dairy breed in the U.S.
  • Ayrshire
    • This breed originated in Scotland.
    • Aryshires are known for vigor and efficiency of milk production.
  • Brown Swiss
    • This breed originated in the Alp Mountains.
    • Brown Swiss cows are known for being hearty and rugged, having superior feet and legs.
    • This breed is very quiet and docile.
  • Guernsey
    • This breed originated in the English Channel, 30 miles off the coast of France.
    • Guernsey cows are known to be hearty and adaptable and for the yellow color of their milk.
  • Jersey
    • This breed originated from the island of Jersey, 15 miles off the coast of France.
    • Jerseys produce more butterfat in their milk than other dairy breeds.
  • Milking Shorthorn
    • This breed originated in England.
    • The Milking Shorthorn has a wide range of adaption and the reputation of being a good milker.

Source: Southwest Dairy Farmers

Environmental Issues on Dairies

Most dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so it’s important to them to protect the land, water and air for their families, surrounding communities and future generations. Environmental practices on all dairy farms are tightly regulated by both federal and state agencies. While requirements vary from state to state, most dairy farmers consistently meet or exceed these regulations.

Dairy farmers employ a wide range of environmentally sound practices, ranging from basic manure management programs to high-tech systems that convert cow manure to electricity.

Water Conservation

  • Dairy farmers use water responsibly in their milking parlors and in manure management and storage. For example, wastewater is recycled to flush feed alleys and irrigate fields.
  • One benefit of fertilizing the soil with cow manure is to help conserve water. When manure is used as a soil treatment, the water-holding capacity of soil is increased by 20 percent, resulting in reduced groundwater needed to grow crops.

Air Quality

  • Dairy farmers protect air quality by following proper manure storage practices and maintaining clean facilities.
  • When applying manure to their fields, farmers work to schedule around their neighbors’ plans.
  • University researchers and industry manufacturers continually work with dairy farmers to identify new ways to control odor.

Farm Management Practices

  • Pesticides are used in farming to kill pests as well as to control weeds and fungus that may grow on crops. Many dairy farmers reduce the use of conventional pesticides through integrated pest management (IPM) programs which combine various techniques to keep flies and other pests at bay.
  • While all farmers use certain fuels, oils, gases, paints, solvents and degreasers to maintain everyday farm operations, they work hard to properly store and dispose of these materials.

Dairy Production

The United States has over 8,300 thousand milk cows and produces approximately 170,700 million pounds of milk annually.

Top States (Milk Cows) (Production)
1. California 1,813 thousand head 40,683 million pounds
2. Wisconsin 1,247 thousand head 24,080 million pounds
3. New York 627 thousand head 12,103 million pounds
4. Idaho 513 thousand head 11,549 million pounds
5. Pennsylvania 550 thousand head 10,682 million pounds
8. Texas 349 thousand head 7,379 million pounds
Top Counties (Annual Milk Production)
1. Erath 1,189,000 thousand pounds
2. Deaf Smith 580,000 thousand pounds
3. Parmer 570,000 thousand pounds
4. Hopkins 545,700 thousand pounds
5. Castro 490,000 thousand pounds


Key Vitamins and Minerals in Milk

Milk contains 9 essential nutrients.

Calcium 30% Helps build strong bones and teeth; reduces the risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis; plays a role in promoting normal blood pressure.
Protein 16% Helps build and maintain lean muscle; the high quality protein in milk contains all the essential amino acids.
Vitamin A 10% Supports good vision, healthy skin and maintains integrity of immune system.
Vitamin D 25% Supports a healthy heart; normal blood pressure; healthy aging; helps regulate the immune system.
Vitamin B-12 13% Works closely with folate to make red blood cells; helps maintain the central nervous system.
Potassium 11% Helps regulate the balance of fluids in your body; plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.
Riboflavin 20% Helps convert food into energy; plays a vital role in the development of the nervous system.
Niacin 10% Helps enzymes function normally in your body.
Phosphorus 20% Works with calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones strong.

Source: whymilk.com


Dairy—What Ingredients Are In Your Diet?

Dairy products are essential to strong, healthy bones. Eating three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt is a wise choice for people of all ages. Research shows that most of us eat only half of the recommended three servings of dairy each day. Which of the following dairy ingredients will you add to your diet?

  • Butter Ingredients
    Butter is made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without additional coloring matter. Butter contains no less than 80% by weight of milkfat. Butter also contains protein, calcium and vitamins A, D and E.
  • Buttermilk Powder Ingredients
    Buttermilk powder is obtained by removing water from liquid buttermilk that was derived from the churning of butter and pasteurized prior to condensing. It is used in dressings and sauces as well as baked goods and other products.
  • Cheese
    Cheese, a concentrated dairy food made from milk, is defined as the fresh or mature product obtained by draining the whey (moisture of original milk) after coagulation of casein, the major milk protein. Cheese can be used in almost every food product.
  • Cream Ingredients
    Cream is prepared from milk by centrifugal separation. Specific homogenization and heat treatments bring about desirable grades of viscosity in cream products. Cream ingredients can be used in numerous foods, from sweet to savory.
  • Lactose Ingredients
    Food-grade lactose is produced from fresh sweet whey by crystallizing an oversaturated solution of whey or permeate and drying it into a powder. The body uses an enzyme called lactase to break down lactose so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.  Sometimes there is not enough lactase to digest the amount of lactose that has been consumed. Common applications are in bakery, confections, snacks, frozen desserts, diabetic products and meat products.

Source: Dairy Management Inc.

Did You Know?

Cows produce 90% of the milk in the world. Any warm-blooded animal such as goats, sheep, horses, reindeer, camels and water buffalo produce milk also.

Learn more about Texas Dairy!