It’s hard to appreciate dairy farmers when you don’t really know what they do
June is Dairy Appreciation Month. But instead of just serving lip service, Kristin decided to get down in the dirt (and the cow poop) and visit a real Wisconsin Dairy Farm for the first time since her 3rd grade field trip.
Kristin’s Main Take Aways:
- The technology on these farms is outstanding
- A female is called a heifer until she has her first calf (never knew that)
- Breeding happens in a temperature regulated tube
- Baby calves will suck on your fingers
- Being a dairy farmer is A LOT of thankless work
Check out some of the daily chores Kristin helped out with on the farm:
Dairy to you might just be a glass of milk at breakfast or one too many cheese curds at a restaurant. But on a larger scale, it contributes $45.6 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year and supports 157k jobs. That’s a lot of cold hard cash.
Those jobs and money goes to literally feeding America, which seems pretty important. It’s definitely more valuable than what some other states do for a living. Wyoming’s #1 export is soda ash. Soda ash!? Why do we need that?
Now for a speed round of Wisconsin dairy farming facts:
- Wisconsin produces 3,167,495,000 pounds of cheese, accounting for 26.2% of the U.S. total. It would also rank 4th in the world for cheese production if it were a country. Hence our many Cheeseheads.
- From 2006 to 2016, Wisconsin’s milk production increased by 28.6%.
- “America’s Dairyland” was added to Wisconsin license plates by the Legislature in 1939. It’s still there today if you haven’t noticed.
- 96% of Wisconsin dairy farms are family-owned.
- The first dairy school in the U.S. was established in 1890 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The fact about all those families running the farms stands out for me. What other industry can say their product was made with real family love? Also, those families must have some real patience. I can barely agree with my parents on when to walk our dogs, let alone feeding millions of people with dairy farming.
How to Support
Remember that June is National Dairy Month, and this great family-run industry would love your support. As a Wisconsinite, you probably already have three glasses of milk per day. Maybe make that four. And don’t hold back on that second order of cheese curds on Friday night—you have the rest of the week to exercise or whatever.
In addition to increasing your normal dairy diet, there are many other ways to help the Wisconsin dairy industry. Check out Carrie Mess’ dailycarrie.com which features creative recipes—from smokey garlic cheddar stuffed veal burgers to cheddar and sausage oatmeal—and causes to donate to. You can also learn more about Wisconsin dairy from people that know it better than us with the website’s blog, which talks about dairy products and corrects dairy misinformation.