Milk-From Cow to You

Milk Comes From Healthy, Well-fed Cows

America’s dairy farmers are committed to providing you and your family with wholesome milk and dairy products and getting milk from cow to you efficiently and safely. This commitment starts with top-notch animal care. Farmers provide comfortable housing, nutritious feed, preventative health care programs and sanitary milk procedures to keep cows healthy.

Milk Is Collected and Cooled in a Bulk Tank

Cows respond best to patient, kind handling and regular routine procedures. Farmers milk their cows two or three times a day. The first step in providing you with safe and wholesome milk is by cleaning the cow’s udder and teats to keep the milk clean. The milking machine is attached to the cow’s teats, and the vacuum of the machine gently squeezes the milk out of the cow’s udder.

The milk from the cows flows through sanitized pipelines directly to the bulk milk tank. Here, the milk is quickly cooled to 45°F or lower to keep it fresh. It is then transported to the processing plant in an insulated tanker truck. At this point, the process of getting fresh, wholesome milk from cow to you has only just begun.

Milk Is Tested, Then Tested Again

Milk and dairy products undergo a number of safety, quality and sanitation procedures, including pasteurization (heating the milk to a high temperature for a short time), making dairy the most highly regulated and safest food available to you.

The dairy industry works with state and federal regulators to monitor and test dairy production, processing and marketing to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of milk and dairy products. Every load of milk shipped from every dairy farm in the United States is tested for quality. Any milk that does not meet federal quality standards is discarded — never to reach your family. These processes ensure only the best milk makes it from the cow to your family.

Handling Milk at Home

Once we get milk from cow to you, there are steps  you can take to help keep it pure and safe at home. Just follow the three “Cs”:

  • Keep milk CLEAN
  • Keep milk COVERED
  • Keep milk COLD

Did You Know?

  • Cows eat about 90 pounds of nutritious food each day, which includes approximately 40 pounds of feed and hay and 50 pounds of silage.
  • Cows drink 25 to 50 gallons of water each day — nearly a bathtub full of water!
  • It takes from five to 10 minutes to milk a cow using a milking machine.
  • On many farms, computers are used to keep track of how much milk a cow produces each time she is milked.
  • Milk and dairy products are among the safest foods you can eat.