Category Archives: sustainability

Dairy Plays an Essential Role in Sustainable Food Systems

From farm-to-table, in Oregon and across the U.S., the dairy community is committed to nourishing people while minimizing impacts to the environment and preserving natural resources.

Sustainable Wellness
Dairy is a nutritious and affordable choice that fuels overall wellness. 

  • Dairy foods are linked to health benefits like reduced inflammation, improved digestive health and healthy immune systems.  Read more about the Health Benefits of Dairy.
  • Milk is a nutrient powerhouse with 13 essential nutrients. Check out more Milk Facts.

Sustainable Planet
Dairy is committed to being an environmental solution – raising the bar on social and environmental responsibility. 

  • In 2020, U.S. dairy set aggressive new environmental sustainability goals to achieve carbon neutrality or better, optimize water usage and improve water quality by 2050.  
  • Everyday 306 million pounds of food by-products are kept out of landfills thanks to dairy cows’ unique ability to upcyle. Find out why we think cows are nutrition superheros
  • Two Oregon dairy farms and one dairy co-op have received national recognition for their sustainability. Learn about award winning dairy in Oregon.

Sustainable Communities
Dairy contributes to strong, thriving communities and is accessible to all. 

  • Dairy farmers are proud members of America’s essential workforce.
  • The dairy community is working hard to ensure every child has access to nutrient-rich foods, including dairy foods, to help them grow, learn and thrive. Read about school breakfast and child nutrition programs in Oregon.
  • Each year, farmers and dairy companies work with local food banks to deliver nutritious dairy foods to those in need, providing 469 million pounds of dairy- including milk, cheese and yogurt –  to Feeding America in 2020 alone. Find out more about how farmers fight Hunger.

Looking for more information on how dairy nourishes people while responsibly caring for our planet and animals?  Join the Dairy Nourishes Network.

Members of the network receive the latest dairy research, resources and recipes, as well as opportunities for free continuing education.

Healthy Animals, Healthy Milk: The Cows Come First

The following story was written by ODNC Dietetic Intern Katlyn Wolf.

Dairy farming is a 24/7 job where cow care comes first. A dairy farmer’s top priority is the well-being of their animals, and they know that healthy cows produce healthy milk. Just like you and me, dairy cows perform best when they’re comfortable, able to socialize, and adequately nourished. Taking a virtual tour of Rickreall Dairy with farmer Louie, I learned how cow care, cow comfort and cow nutrition translate into nutritious milk.

Creature Comforts

Cow barns are designed with comfort in mind.  Cows spend an average of 12-14 hours per day lying down, whether they are on pasture or in a barn.  Bedding in the barn must offer good support and be appropriate for the temperature. As herd animals, cows prefer to live with other cows. Believe it or not, socialization helps cows develop stronger muscles and contributes to improved immunity. This can increase milk production and quality. 

Temperature control is important for cow comfort and health. Unlike humans, cows do not have many active sweat glands. Cows reduce body temperature through their breath, which is a lot of work! Farmers keep their cows cool with fans and sprinkler or mister systems. When it’s cold, barns can be temporarily closed to hold heat, bedding is changed frequently to remain clean and dry, and cow jackets may be used – functional and fashionable!

Mealtime in the “Calf”eteria 

Diet is important because it can affect the quantity and quality of the milk produced. Cows always have access to nutritious feed. It’s usually a combination of grasses, grains, and other ingredients that provide them with the right balance of nutrients. Farmers work with cow nutritionists to make sure their cows have a balanced diet that is appropriate for their age. Louie’s nutritionist visits the farm every two weeks to make sure the cows’ diets are just right and the cows are healthy.

The Parlor

Cows are often milked in buildings commonly known as the “milking parlor.” Typically, the parlor is very calm, quiet, and efficient, because cow comfort is just as important here.  Cows are milked for a short time each day, between 5 and 10 minutes, two or three times a day.  Employees escort the cows into milking stalls, then clean, dry and disinfect the cow’s udder before attaching a mechanical milking machine. Milking machines are more sanitary, more comfortable for the animal, and allow for more accurate output recording. They automatically detach when milk flow slows and the udder is empty. While cows are away from the barn for milking their barns are cleaned, like room service!

Milk is ‘udderly’ full of benefits!

As a Graduate student studying nutrition and diet, I know healthy dietary patterns include a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-dense foods recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans because they provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components. I enjoy dairy for its flavor and healthfulness. After virtually touring Rickreall Dairy with farmer Louie and learning about how animals are cared for to produce healthy milk, I’ve found that milk is even more tasty! 

Katlyn Wolf is currently a Master’s student in the Dietetic Nutrition Program at Oregon State University. She recently worked as a Dietetic Intern for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council in 2021.

Additional Resources:

VIRTUAL TOURS BRING DAIRY FARMS TO THE CLASSROOM

FARMING WITH INNOVATION AND HEART EARNS NATIONAL AWARD FOR RICKREALL DAIRY

DAIRY ENLIGHTENING: EDUCATIONAL LEADERS TOUR CLOUD CAP FARMS

GET CONNECTED WITH DAIRY EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES ONLINE

FUNNY QUESTIONS, SERIOUS IMPACTS ON DAIRY TOURS

Meet Our Cows