Dairy Data Sheet

Chester County, Pennsylvania

Did You Know…?

  • Milk and milk products are essential components of our diet. The 2010 Dietary Guidance Advisory Committee report recommends that people consume more fat-free and low-fat dairy foods such as three servings of milk, yogurt and cheese each day.
  • Consumption of milk products in the United States has increased from 564 lbs. per person per year in 1990 to 591 lbs. in 2000 and 600 lbs. in 2008. Of these 600 lbs., 204 lbs. (23.7 gallons of whole milk) are milk and the rest are cheese, butter, yogurt and other dairy products.
  • Each day, a lactating dairy cow consumes about 50 lbs. of dry matter in well balanced, nutritious feed and a non-lactating, pregnant dairy cow consumes about 20 lb of dry matter. Typically 50-80% of the feed is forage material.
  • Chester County dairy farmers typically grow their own forages, such as baled hay, and fermented feeds, such as corn silage and alfalfa hay lage, and some or all of their corn grain and small grains to feed the cows, but have to purchase protein meal and other critical supplements to maintain optimal cow health.
  • A cow needs 25-50 gallons of clean water each day.
  • Dairy farmers know that cow health, general wellbeing and comfort are critical components to milk production. They manage facilities to maintain cow comfort throughout the different seasons of the year. Dairy farmers may install fans or misting devices in their cow barns to keep them comfortable during hot summer days.
  • Typically milk enters the food supply within three days of being produced.
  • All milk is tested multiple times to ensure that no antibiotics or any other harmful residues enter the milk supply.
  • Dairy farmers cannot decrease milk production when prices fall below the breakeven level. They must continue to feed the cows, sell the milk and maintain all their facilities and equipment.
  • Milk prices are calculated and set each month based on a very complicated formula (USDA). Prices have varied between $22.00/100 lb in 2008 to just over $11.00 in 2009. It typically costs between $15.00 and $17.00 to produce 100 pounds of milk. During much of 2009 and early 2010 dairy farmers produced milk at a financial loss.
  • 99% of dairy farms are family-owned and operated.
  • Each year each milking cow normally produces a calf. Typically the farmer raises heifers (female calves) to replace the milking herd as needed or if the dairy herd is being increased. These heifer need to be cared for and fed for two years until they can produce milk. Dairy herds may consist of as many heifers as milking dairy cows.
  • Many dairy farmers in Chester County have developed and implemented conservation plans and nutrient management plans to improve and protect water quality.
  • Twenty Chester County dairy farmers are participating in the Chester Farms, Nutrient Use Efficiency Program. This program provides farmers with additional tools (pre-sidedress nitrogen testing, corn stalk testing, chlorophyll meters and aerial imagery) that often recommends a reduction in nutrient applications, which in turn reduces the risk of excessive nitrogen entering fresh water aquifers.
  • As the production of milk per cow has increased dramatically from 5,314 lb/cow/year in 1950 to19,576 lbs. in 2006, the amount of methane gas has decreased from 0.0485 lb per lb of milk in 1950 to 0.0169 lb per lb of milk in 2006. As the productivity of the animal has improved, methane (greenhouse gas) emission per unit of milk product is reduced because feed energy associated with maintaining the animal is reduced.

Chester County Pennsylvania Agricultural Development Council

Leave a Reply