Animal Care on Dairy Farms
A cow’s health is of the utmost importance to dairy farmers, because proper animal care leads to
the production of high quality milk. Nutritious diets, healthy living conditions and good medical
care are all essential for a healthy herd, and these are among the many animal welfare practices
routinely used by dairy farmers.
The dairy industry has in place a number of initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to
animal well-being. In 2009, we launched the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring
Responsible Management) program: www.nationaldairyfarm.com, a nationwide, verifiable
animal well-being program that demonstrates U.S. milk producers are committed to the highest
Animal scientists and dairy farmers continually explore different ways to improve the comfort of
dairy cows. Typical practices on modern farms include:
Food & Shelter
Dairy cows have access to feed as well as fresh, clean water 24 hours a day. Many dairy
farms use “free-stall housing,” which is a type of barn that allows cows to eat, drink and sleep
whenever and wherever they choose.
Today’s dairy farms use ventilation and water-distribution systems to maintain temperature
controls in hot or cold weather.
Farmers employ professional nutritionists to develop a scientifically formulated, balanced and
nutritious diet for their cows. Diets include hay, grains, protein sources and vitamins and
Health & Medical Attention
Cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations
and prompt treatment of illness.
A cow that is being treated with antibiotics is separated from the milking herd and placed in a
separate area so her milk does not enter the food supply. She is not put back into the herd
until the antibiotics have cleared her system.
All milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and processing plant. Any milk that tests
positive is disposed of immediately and does n