A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting or processing or both of animal milk — mostly from cows or buffaloes , but also from goats , sheep , horses , or camels — for human consumption.
A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or in a section of a multi-purpose farm mixed farm that is concerned with the harvesting of milk. Terminology differs between countries. For example, in the United States , an entire dairy farm is commonly called a "dairy". The building or farm area where milk is harvested from the cow is often called a "milking parlor" or "parlor".
Except in the case of smaller dairies, where cows are often put on pasture, and usually milked in "stanchion barns".
The farm area where milk is stored in bulk tanks is known as the farm's "milk house". In New Zealand , farm areas for milk harvesting are also called "milking parlours", and are historically known as "milking sheds". Parlour design has evolved from simple barns or sheds to large rotary structures in which the workflow throughput of cows is very efficiently handled.
In some countries, especially those with small numbers of animals being milked, the farm may perform the functions of a dairy plant, processing their own milk into salable dairy products , such as butter , cheese , or yogurt.
This on-site processing is a traditional method of producing specialist milk products, common in Europe. In the United States a dairy can also be a place that processes, distributes and sells dairy products , or a room, building or establishment where milk is stored and processed into milk products, such as butter or cheese.
In New Zealand English the singular use of the word dairy almost exclusively refers to a corner shop , or superette.
This usage is historical as such shops were a common place for the public to buy milk products. As an attributive, the word dairy refers to milk-based products, derivatives and processes, and the animals and workers involved in their production: for example dairy cattle , dairy goat.
A dairy farm produces milk and a dairy factory processes it into a variety of dairy products.
These establishments constitute the global dairy industry , a component of the food industry. Milk producing animals have been domesticated for thousands of years. Initially, they were part of the subsistence farming that nomads engaged in.
As the community moved about the country, their animals accompanied them.
Protecting and feeding the animals were a big part of the symbiotic relationship between the animals and the herders. In the more recent past, people in agricultural societies owned dairy animals that they milked for domestic and local village consumption, a typical example of a cottage industry. The animals might serve multiple purposes for example, as a draught animal for pulling a plow as a youngster, and at the end of its useful life as meat.
In this case, the animals were normally milked by hand and the herd size was quite small, so that all of the animals could be milked in less than an hour—about 10 per milker. These tasks were performed by a dairymaid dairywoman or dairyman. With industrialization and urbanization , the supply of milk became a commercial industry, with specialized breeds of cattle being developed for dairy, as distinct from beef or draught animals.
Initially, more people were employed as milkers, but it soon turned to mechanization with machines designed to do the milking. Historically, the milking and the processing took place close together in space and time: on a dairy farm.
People milked the animals by hand; on farms where only small numbers are kept, hand-milking may still be practiced. Hand-milking is accomplished by grasping the teats often pronounced tit or tits in the hand and expressing milk either by squeezing the fingers progressively, from the udder end to the tip, or by squeezing the teat between thumb and index finger, then moving the hand downward from udder towards the end of the teat. The action of the hand or fingers is designed to close off the milk duct at the udder upper end and, by the movement of the fingers, close the duct progressively to the tip to express the trapped milk.
Each half or quarter of the udder is emptied one milk-duct capacity at a time. The stripping action is repeated, using both hands for speed.
Both methods result in the milk that was trapped in the milk duct being squirted out the end into a bucket that is supported between the knees or rests on the ground of the milker, who usually sits on a low stool. Traditionally the cow, or cows, would stand in the field or paddock while being milked.
Young stock, heifers , would have to be trained to remain still to be milked. In many countries, the cows were tethered to a post and milked. While most countries produce their own milk products, the structure of the dairy industry varies in different parts of the world. In major milk-producing countries most milk is distributed through whole sale markets.
In Ireland and Australia, for example, farmers' co-operatives own many of the large-scale processors, while in the United States many farmers and processors do business through individual contracts. This was down from 2, cooperatives in the s. Notable developments include considerable foreign investment in the dairy industry and a growing role for dairy cooperatives.
Output of milk is growing rapidly in such countries and presents a major source of income growth for many farmers. As in many other branches of the food industry, dairy processing in the major dairy producing countries has become increasingly concentrated, with fewer but larger and more efficient plants operated by fewer workers.
In , charges of antitrust violations have been made against major dairy industry players in the United States, which critics call Big Milk.
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Government intervention in milk markets was common in the 20th century. A limited antitrust exemption was created for U. In the s, some U.
Plants producing liquid milk and products with short shelf life, such as yogurts, creams and soft cheeses, tend to be located on the outskirts of urban centres close to consumer markets.
Plants manufacturing items with longer shelf life, such as butter, milk powders, cheese and whey powders, tend to be situated in rural areas closer to the milk supply. Most large processing plants tend to specialise in a limited range of products. Exceptionally, however, large plants producing a wide range of products are still common in Eastern Europe, a holdover from the former centralized, supply-driven concept of the market under Communist governments.
As processing plants grow fewer and larger, they tend to acquire bigger, more automated and more efficient equipment. While this technological tendency keeps manufacturing costs lower, the need for long-distance transportation often increases the environmental impact.
Milk production is irregular, depending on cow biology.
Producers must adjust the mix of milk which is sold in liquid form vs. When it became necessary to milk larger cows, the cows would be brought to a shed or barn that was set up with stalls milking stalls where the cows could be confined their whole life while they were milked.
One person could milk more cows this way, as many as 20 for a skilled worker.
But having cows standing about in the yard and shed waiting to be milked is not good for the cow, as she needs as much time in the paddock grazing as is possible. It is usual to restrict the twice-daily milking to a maximum of an hour and a half each time.
It makes no difference whether one milks 10 or cows, the milking time should not exceed a total of about three hours each day for any cow as they should be in stalls and laying down as long as possible to increase comfort which will in turn aid in milk production. A cow is physically milked for only about 10 minutes a day depending on her milk letdown time and the number of milkings per day.
As herd sizes increased there was more need to have efficient milking machines, sheds, milk-storage facilities vats , bulk-milk transport and shed cleaning capabilities and the means of getting cows from paddock to shed and back. As herd numbers increased so did the problems of animal health.
In New Zealand two approaches to this problem have been used. The first was improved veterinary medicines and the government regulation of the medicines that the farmer could use.
The other was the creation of veterinary clubs where groups of farmers would employ a veterinarian vet full-time and share those services throughout the year. It was in the vet's interest to keep the animals healthy and reduce the number of calls from farmers, rather than to ensure that the farmer needed to call for service and pay regularly.
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This daily milking routine goes on for about to days per year that the cow stays in milk. Some small herds are milked once a day for about the last 20 days of the production cycle but this is not usual for large herds.
If a cow is left unmilked just once she is likely to reduce milk-production almost immediately and the rest of the season may see her dried off giving no milk and still consuming feed.
However, once-a-day milking is now being practised more widely in New Zealand for profit and lifestyle reasons. This is effective because the fall in milk yield is at least partially offset by labour and cost savings from milking once per day. This compares to some intensive farm systems in the United States that milk three or more times per day due to higher milk yields per cow and lower marginal labor costs. Farmers who are contracted to supply liquid milk for human consumption as opposed to milk for processing into butter , cheese , and so on—see milk often have to manage their herd so that the contracted number of cows are in milk the year round, or the required minimum milk output is maintained.
This is done by mating cows outside their natural mating time so that the period when each cow in the herd is giving maximum production is in rotation throughout the year. Northern hemisphere farmers who keep cows in barns almost all the year usually manage their herds to give continuous production of milk so that they get paid all year round.
In the southern hemisphere the cooperative dairying systems allow for two months on no productivity because their systems are designed to take advantage of maximum grass and milk production in the spring and because the milk processing plants pay bonuses in the dry winter season to carry the farmers through the mid-winter break from milking.
It also means that cows have a rest from milk production when they are most heavily pregnant.
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Some year-round milk farms are penalised financially for overproduction at any time in the year by being unable to sell their overproduction at current prices. Artificial insemination AI is common in all high-production herds in order to improve the genetics of the female offspring which will be raised for replacements. AI also reduces the need for keeping potentially dangerous bulls on the farm.
Male calves are sold to be raised for beef or veal. A cow will calve or freshen about once a year, until she is culled because of declining production, infertility or other health problems.
Then the cow will be sold, most often going to slaughter. Dairy plants process the raw milk they receive from farmers so as to extend its marketable life. Two main types of processes are employed: heat treatment to ensure the safety of milk for human consumption and to lengthen its shelf-life, and dehydrating dairy products such as butter, hard cheese and milk powders so that they can be stored.
Today, milk is separated by huge machines in bulk into cream and skim milk. The cream is processed to produce various consumer products, depending on its thickness, its suitability for culinary uses and consumer demand, which differs from place to place and country to country. Some milk is dried and powdered, some is condensed by evaporation mixed with varying amounts of sugar and canned. Most cream from New Zealand and Australian factories is made into butter.
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This is done by churning the cream until the fat globules coagulate and form a monolithic mass. This butter mass is washed and, sometimes, salted to improve keeping qualities. The residual buttermilk goes on to further processing. At a later stage these packages are broken down into home-consumption sized packs.
The product left after the cream is removed is called skim, or skimmed, milk. To make a consumable liquid a portion of cream is returned to the skim milk to make low fat milk semi-skimmed for human consumption. By varying the amount of cream returned, producers can make a variety of low-fat milks to suit their local market.
Whole milk is also made by adding cream back to the skim to form a standardized product.