Part 2: Production Agriculture

Section 8: Dairy Cattle

Figure 119. Milk

Figure 119. Milk is a liquid food produced by dairy cows. Milk is the official state beverage. (USDA)

Figure 120. Holsteins

Figure 120. Holsteins are the most common breed of dairy cattle in North Dakota. (ND Department of Agriculture)

Dairy cattleCattle that are raised in order to obtain dairy products are raised in order to obtain dairy products. Dairy productsMilk and foods that are made from milk such as cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and butter include milk and foods that are made from milk such as cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and butter. MilkThe liquid food produced by cows for their calves is the liquid food produced by cows for their calves. It is very high in proteins and other nutrients. (Nutrients are substances that are necessary for living things to grow and maintain life.)

After a cow has given birth to a calf, the cow begins producing milk and continues giving milk for about 10 months. The dairy cows of today have been developed to produce huge quantities of milk. In fact, each dairy cow produces about six times as much milk today as did a cow 100 years ago. The calf needs only a small amount of the milk that its mother produces.

When the calf reaches 5 to 10 weeks of age, it is weaned from its mother. This means that the calf no longer nurses from its mother but receives nourishment another way. Dairy farmers use large nursing bottles to feed milk to the calves until they are old enough to eat solid food.

Dairy farmers usually milk their cows by machine twice a day. The milk is stored in refrigerated tanks at the dairy farm until a tanker truck picks it up for shipment to a dairy processing plant. At the processing plant, milk and milk products are prepared. These products are then transported in refrigerated trucks to the grocery stores.

Figure 121. North Dakota has about 200 dairy farms

Figure 121. North Dakota has about 100 dairy farms, with many of them in Morton County. (USDA)

The number of dairy farms in the state has decreased in recent years, mainly due to the high costs of operating a dairy business. Today, North Dakota has fewer than 100 dairy farms.

Most of the dairy cattle in the United States and in North Dakota are the Holstein breed. These cattle can be identified by their black-and-white coloring. Holsteins produce more milk than any other breed of dairy cattle.

North Dakota is home to the “World’s Largest Holstein Cow.” This fiberglass statue stands on a hill overlooking the town of New Salem, North Dakota. It can be seen from five miles away. The cow, named “Salem Sue” was built to honor and advertise the dairy farmers of the area.

Milk and Ice Cream

Eleven cups of milk are needed to make a half-gallon of ice cream. If an ice cream cone contains 12 cup of ice cream, 16 ice cream cones can be made from 11 cups of milk.

11 cups 12 gallon (12 gallon = 2 quarts)
11 cups 2 quarts (1 quart = 2 pints)
11 cups 4 pints (1 pint = 2 cups)
11 cups 8 cups (1 cup = 2 half-cups)
11 cups 16 cones (12 cup per cone)