1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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