Dairy Farming from Microsoft Encarta 96, ref 3.
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Dairy farming was formerly confined to the spring and summer months, when pasturage was plentiful. Cows, calving in the spring, were allowed to become dry in the fall and were poorly fed and sheltered during the winter. Under the present system, dairy farming is not confined to any season; during the winter, cows are fed succulent fodder in the form of silage, in addition to liberal rations of grain and grain by-products, often in the form of commercially-prepared feed. Another innovation is that, instead of manufacturing and marketing all types of milk products, most dairy farmers now sell all their milk to processors and distributors.

The number of dairy cows (that is, dairy cattle, exclusive of bulls, calves, and heifers) in the United States has shown a fairly constant change in ratio from one cow to every four persons in the population during the late 19th century, to one to every six in the present population. About 5 percent of the cows are purebred-that is, of registered birth and pedigree; almost all of the remaining 95 percent belong to recognized breeds but, because they are not qualified for registration, are known as grades. The purebreds in the United States are mainly Holstein-Friesian, Guernsey, Jersey, Ayrshire, and Brown Swiss (see Cattle).

Under the modern system of evaluating milk on the basis of butterfat content, as determined by the test devised by the American agricultural chemist Stephen M. Babcock, it is important that the dairy farmer keep records, not only of the total production of a herd but of the performance of individual cows. In this way the best cows can be selected and poor producers can be replaced by better cattle.

Dairy products include whole fluid milk, low-fat fluid milk, flavored milk, whole and nonfat dry milk, butter, cheese, evaporated and condensed milk, frozen dairy products, and fermented products such as sour cream and yogurt. Dairy farmers formerly separated the cream and sold it to creameries, but in the 1950s a marked shift occurred from the sale of farm-separated cream to the marketing of whole milk and a coincident increase in the percentage of whole fluid milk consumed. Since then, there has been an enormous expansion of milk-drying facilities and increased human consumption of nonfat dry milk solids.

Cooperative associations have helped substantially in improving market conditions, promoting standardization and grading of dairy products, and providing protection for the industry. Dairy cooperatives account for about 75 percent of all the fluid milk sold in the United States. See Cooperatives.

The introduction of labor-saving machinery, especially the vacuum milking machine, has lightened considerably the tasks of the dairy farmer. Modern improvements in refrigeration and transportation have eliminated the influence of climate and adverse weather conditions in milk distribution. Such dairy-barn equipment as feed conveyors, washers, and sterilizers has further improved the product. Research by governmental and association agencies has led to higher production and greater use of dairy products and especially to the discovery of new industrial uses for milk by-products.
Contributed by: (US) National Dairy Council

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