Dairy Facts


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  • Originated in Europe and was brought to the U.S. by Dutch settlers.
  • Known for the highest milk production of all dairy breeds.
  • The Holstein is the dominant dairy breed in the U.S.

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Brown Swiss

  • 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.



  • Originated from the island of Jersey, 15 miles off the coast of France.
  • Jerseys produce more butterfat in their milk than other dairy breeds.
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How A Cow Makes Milk

Cows have a unique digestive system. Milk cows are ruminants having a large stomach with four separate compartments.  This gives cows a decided advantage in digesting and utilizing parts of plants that are normally useless.  Substances such as cellulose found in grass and hay and other waste products such as cottonseed hulls and beet pulp can be utilized by the dairy cow to make two highly nutritious products – milk and meat.  It only takes a cow about 2 days to process her food into milk.

  • Cows swallow food, only partially chewing it.
  • The food first enters the biggest stomach compartment, the rumen. Here the food is mixed with bacteria to break it down into smaller pieces. This process is called fermentation.
  • Next, it moves on to the next compartment, the reticulum. Here the nutrients from the food are absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • The cow now burps up a small amount of food (cud) to chew again.Click to enlarge
  • After chewing her cud, she swallows again and her cud goes into the third and fourth stomach compartments, the omasum and abomasum. Here additional digestion occurs and more nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Finally, the feed enters the intestines for more digestion and absorption in the blood stream, and excretion as waste.
  • Nutrients absorbed into the bloodstream are carried to the udder where the cow’s body will put the nutrients together in another form to make milk. About 500 gallons of blood need to pass through the udder to produce one gallon of milk.


 From Farm To Fridge

 1.  Feeding

Dairy farmers feed and care for their cows. It is important to keep the cows healthy and happy so they may live long and productive lives.

Click to enlarge2. Milking

Farmers milk their cows twice a day, by machine. Often times the farmer rises early in the morning to do the first milking.

3.  Cooling

The cow’s milk is stored in the bulk tank where it is kept cool and fresh.

4.  Hauling

Milk is transported from the farm to the dairy processing plant by refrigerated trucks.

5. Testing

Is your milk safe and clean? You can be sure that it is. Milk is tested again and again to ensure it is safe for humans.

6.  Processing

The milk is tested and packaged at the milk processing plant. Many different dairy products are made from milk.

7.  Grocery Store

From the milk processing plant, milk and other dairy products are moved to grocery stores where you may purchase them.

8. Refrigerator

Keep your dairy foods cold in your refrigerator at home!

9.  Consumer

Now that you know where dairy products come from, you can enjoy them even more! Remember to eat at least three servings of dairy foods every day!


Did You Know…

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  • In an average day, a dairy cow will eat about 90 pounds of feed, drink a bathtub full of water (25 – 50 gallons) and produce 5 to 6 gallons of milk. That’s about 80 glasses of milk!
  • Cows spend up to 8 hours of their day eating.
  • A dairy cow can’t give milk until she has had a calf.
  • How much MILK does it take?
  • 1 pound of butter – requires – 39 cups of milk
  • 8 oz. of yogurt – requires – 1 cup of milk
  • ½ gallon of ice cream – requires – 11 cups of milk


Sources: Texas Farm Bureau via txfb.org


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