The Milk Story

The Milk Story

cow farm animal cartoon illustrationEver wonder where delicious milk comes from? It all starts with healthy, well-fed cows that live on farms all around America the beautiful.

Cows are fed up to eight times a day. Their feed is a combination of hay and silage. This mix is known as a TMR, or Total Mixed Ration. This TMR generally consists of: hay, corn, barley, field grasses, cotton seed, bakery or grocery by-products. Cows eat approximately 80 pounds a day at a cost of $3.50, which varies with rising/falling feed costs. And cows drink 30 to 40 gallons of water each day. A cow is a ruminant with four compartments to her digestive system.

A cow makes milk after she has a calf. The mother cow makes a very special milk for her calf; it is called colostrum. Colostrum has extra vitamins and protein and is very good for the calf.

Farm animalsEven after the calf is weaned, the mother cow still makes milk. In fact, milk cows produce up to 8 gallons of milk per day. Milk is stored in the cow’s udder. The udder is a large bag with four teats. Now she is ready to be milked.

The cows go to the milking parlor where the dairy farmer washes their teats. A milking machine with four teat cups is attached to the cow and the milk is cooled and pumped into a large storage tank. Milking never hurts the cow.

Raw milk is cooled to 38 degrees and is stored in refrigerated storage tanks. A truck comes to pick up the milk daily and take it to the processing plant. The truck driver sample tests the milk before pumping it into the truck to make sure it’s safe to drink. Milk trucks have very large shiny metal tanks to carry the milk. Each truck has a special feature to keep it cool, it’s like a thermos on wheels… it’s insulated.

Raw milk is sampled and checked again and then pumped from the milk truck into a storage tank. Next, the milk is sent to the homogenizer and the pasteurizer. Homogenized means the same all the way through. In this step, the butter fat is broken up and mixed into the rest of the milk. Pasteurization is quickly heating the milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which kills any bacteria that are in the milk.

glass of milk and a carton of milkThere are many different milk and dairy products that fit into every diet – from whole milk to skim. All types of milk are put into bottles and cartons and taken to grocery stores for you to buy. Milk is good for you. In the morning you probably have milk on your cereal. Did you know that cows love cereal too?