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Dairy Facts 2016

Animal Welfare

Cow in field
The dairy industry's commitment to providing high quality milk begins with top-notch animal care. Nutritious diets, healthy living conditions and good medical care are among the many animal welfare practices routinely used by dairy farmers. Animal scientists and dairy farmers continually explore different ways to improve the comfort of dairy cows.

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 minerals. Cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations and prompt treatment of illness. Dairy cows have access to feed as well as fresh, clean water. 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. Many dairy farmers have installed rubber or other non-slip flooring in their barns to make it easier for the cows to move around. Cows may sleep on waterbeds, sand beds or mattresses made from rubber, foam or a combination of the two.

Dairy is one of the most regulated and inspected industries in agriculture. For more information, visit

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