Infographic: Animal Care for Dairy

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From 2007 to 2017 the U.S. dairy community reduced its: water use by 30%, carbon footprint by 19%, and land use by 21%, per gallon of milk.

In only a decade, dairy farmers have made huge strides in reducing water & land usage, leading to a 19% reduction in the overall carbon footprint to produce a gallon of milk! Improvements in animal welfare, nutrition, health, & breeding also contributed.


U.S. dairy farmers are working to increase their environmental sustainability. By 2050, they strive to: become carbon neutral or better, optimize water use while maximizing recycling, & improve water quality by optimizing manure and nutrient use.


Dairy farming in North America has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the world

According to a 2010-2015 study from the UN FAO, dairy farming in North America has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions intensity of any region in the world! It was the only region to lower both emissions intensity & absolute emissions. 


U.S. dairy farmers are committed to clean energy

Dairy farmers are committed to reducing fuel emissions. They use LED lights in their barns, variable-speed vacuum pumps, high-efficiency fans & refrigeration. Many also convert biogas to electricity or renewable natural gas, & use wind & solar energy.


U.S. dairy farmers are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing soil health

Dairy farmers use precision farming, renewable fertilizers, no/low-till farming, and cover crops to decrease emissions from crops while increasing soil health.


U.S. dairy farmers are striving to reduce the enteric emissions of their cows through science, technology, and innovation.

Enteric emissions are the natural bodily gas emissions of cattle from their digestive systems. These emissions can be reduced through the use of feed additives, optimized diets, genetics, farm management technology, and animal welfare and health.


94% of dairy farms are family owned

“Factory farming” is a term commonly thrown around when discussing animal agriculture. The truth is most farms are family farms. In the U.S. dairy community, specifically, 94% of farms are family-owned.


99% of the U.S. milk supply comes from farms participating in the FARM Animal Care Program.

The FARM program brings together experts & stakeholders to institute science-based standards & tools for the dairy community in animal care, antibiotic stewardship, sustainability, & workforce welfare. It assures your milk comes from a good place.


Ever wonder how much milk a dairy cow produces a day?


On some dairy farms, cow manure gets flushed or trucked over to digesters, a processing tank equipped to capture biogas. Bacteria break down the manure into carbon dioxide and methane, which can then be sent to a generator to be used as clean, renewable energy!


Within a few hours after the birth, the farmer usually moves the calf to its own safe space, called a calf hutch. The space includes an individual house and fenced-in space. This best practice can be confusing when people don’t understand why it’s best to remove a calf from its mother. This practice has become an essential part of animal care on a farm for a few reasons:

  1. Protects the calf from harmful germs
  2. Allows the farmer to watch each calf closely in a controlled setting
  3. The farmer can provide individual care and track what the calf is eating and it’s overall health


Raise a glass to dairy farmers! As of 2007, producing a gallon has a 63% smaller carbon footprint than in 1944, thanks to improvements made in cow comfort, health, nutrition and breeding.


Cows don’t sleep standing up! Why would they when dairy farmers give them their own spaces with comfy bedding? In freestall barns, cows can get up from their bed to eat, drink or just take a stroll around the barn whenever they want!


Animal care is important to farmers. On dairy farms, barns can be outfitted with large automated brushes so that cows can walk up and activate the rotating bristles to scratch their heads or bodies whenever they need additional comfort.


A cow’s udder is thoroughly cleaned, dried and massaged with towels before milking. Disinfectant skin conditioners are applied to the udder before and after milking to keep the cow’s udder healthy.


Calves are first fed colostrum (the milk from their mothers after the calf is born) which is packed full of nutrients to help them grow up healthy. After they are fed colostrum, the calf is switched to either whole milk or milk replacer.


Did you know cattle are able to upcycle byproducts from other industries and turn them into a nutrient-dense protein source? In fact, more than 40% of all animal feeds are recycled products!


Ready for summer? Cows don’t mind the cooler weather thanks to their thick skin and hair!


Ear tags allow farmers to record a cow’s body temperature, health and medication history and even the composition of each cow’s milk. The number also lets farmers know when a cow has been fed to prevent overfeeding. For some farmers, the standard, plastic ear tag has gone high tech with some tags automatically syncing information, such as a cow’s body temperature or daily movements, to a computer. For more about ear tags, visit:


Did you know some dairy cows wear collars with pedometers? Pedometers help the farmer track how many steps each cow takes — which can help them figure out if a cow is not feeling well (decreased activity) or if they are in heat (increased activity)! Technology helps farmers keep a closer eye on their animals and provide the best care. It’s like a Fitbit for cows!

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