Every Day is Earth Day on a Dairy

Today, it’s popular for companies to prove they are “green”. Many marketing campaigns don’t center on the product being advertised, but how environmentally friendly or ethical the company is who made the product. We in agriculture say, welcome to the party! We’ve been “green” for generations.

In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, I’m celebrating the past, present and future environmentally-friendly efforts made by U.S. dairy farmers.

Pumping manure from the lagoon onto the tanker to haul to the field
Applying manure, a soil nutrient, on a field
Dairy farmers are efficient recyclers. On our farm, we recycle manure by using it as a natural fertilizer. We recycle water by reusing the water that cools the milk to wash the barn. That water then drains into the manure lagoon and will be land applied. We use sawdust as bedding in one of our barns.

Sawdust is recycled material used for bedding in this barn
Our cows are recycler’s too. Their diet includes several byproducts that are considered waste. Examples that we’ve used on our farm include cotton seed, corn gluten, brewer’s grain, soybean meal, distillers grain, and fruit rinds. It’s amazing how cows turn these “waste” products into nutritious milk! 

Cows are efficient recyclers!
Fruit "waste" is a seasonal ingredient we've used to feed our cows
We're currently using cottonseed in our cow's diet. Garrett and Jack love to play in it!
We conserve energy by using a variable speed vacuum pump which automatically adjusts the amount of energy used based on need, we use a water-cooled plate cooler to cool the milk which saves energy that would otherwise be used to heat water for cleaning. Our farm uses a heat recovery system which allows us to decrease our heating costs and energy use.

Production efficiencies, cow nutrition, cow comfort, technology, genetics and other improvements have enabled dairy farmers to reduce the environmental impact of a gallon of milk. To produce a gallon of milk today, we utilize 90% less cropland, produce 76% less manure, use 65% less water, and reduced our carbon footprint by 63% since the 1940’s. Source: 2011 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report   

Today dairy farmers, dairy processors, milk delivery companies and local retailers are all working together to reduce the carbon footprint of fluid milk by 25% by 2020.  

We care about the land because we live on it and want to pass it on to future generations. The dairy industry’s commitment to sustainability brings science and technology together in an effort to feed more people using less land, water and other natural resources.