Ask the Farmer

With less than 2 percent of the country involved in farming today, most haven’t had the opportunity to visit a dairy farm. That can make it difficult to sort fact from fiction… here are answers to some of the most common questions we hear about running a dairy farm.


How much milk does a cow “make” everyday?
On average, a cow will produce 6-7 gallons of milk each day.

What do you feed your cows?
Cows eat about 100 pounds of feed each day, which is a combination of hay, grain and silage (fermented corn or grass). They also drink A LOT of water – up to 50 gallons a day!

SO, do cows really have 4 stomachs?
A cow has one stomach with four chambers, which is why many people say that a cow has four stomachs.

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.

What do farms do with all of the manure?
Dairy cow manure is always put to good use. Some of it is spread on the fields as a natural source of fertilizer. It can also be composted and sold to local garden stores. Some farmers dry it and use it as a bedding source similar to sawdust.

How and why is milk pasteurized?
All milk intended for direct consumption should be pasteurized — it’s a matter of food safety. Pasteurization is a simple, effective method to kill potentially harmful bacteria without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk. With standard pasteurization, milk is heated to a temperature of at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for not less than 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling.

Is organic milk better than “regular” milk?
Organic milk is just one of many options in the dairy case to fit different lifestyles and personal preferences. Organic and regular milk are equally as good for you. Check the nutrition label, and you’ll see that every 8-ounce serving offers the same amount of essential nutrients.

For information on the nutritional value of dairy products, you can visit the National Dairy Council.

Want to know more? Send us your questions!