Fenceline: June 7, 2012
Meadowlark Extension Agent
Livestock & Natural Resources
I often wonder what my grandparents would think of today’s world. The changes they saw in their lifetime were incredible, going from horse and buggy, Model A’s and then the more modern automobile. They saw everyone having their own milk cow, milking by hand, to milking parlors and more concentrated dairies. I was born on a wheat and cattle farm, but neighbors to a family dairy. My personal experience was marrying into a dairy family. I have a lot of respect for those that dairy, the dedication, the hard work and great work ethic instilled in the entire family.
A few months back I was able to go on the Western Kansas Dairy Tour with dairymen and related industry folks. I love how dairymen are always thinking of the cow first. they know if the cows are well cared for they will have optimum production. Maybe this was the backdrop of the “California Happy Cows” commercial. Which I guess PETA has filed a lawsuit, seeking more publicity. The judge was to hear testimony at the end of May. I’ve not heard the results just yet.
Dairymen and women have used production records for years, and have developed their operations using records. They know their cost of producing milk and have truly honed their business skills. From 1944 to 2007, they are using 65% less water to produce a gallon of milk.
Some of the large dairies in western Kansas are recycling the water, cooling the milk, cleaning the cows and parlors and then irrigating crops. In that same time frame, they are using 90% less land to produce a gallon of milk.
This illustrates the more concentrated dairies. Through technology manure production is 76% less per gallon of milk. Making the dairy carbon footprint 63% less per gallon of milk than in 1944. (The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared to 2007 Capper & Bauman, 2009.)
So this June, dairy month, when you’re eating some ice cream, cheese, or yogurt, drinking a glass of milk or milk shake be very thankful for the dairies we have!
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