Who first looked at a cows udders and said, "I'm going to drink whatever comes out of those things."?
In different parts of the world different animals are valued for the milk they give. But in the world as a whole the most common milk producer is the common cow. Caring for the and the milk they produce is called dairy farming. Cows raised especially for their milk are called dairy cows.
We have dairying to thank not only for milk but also for cream, cheese, butter, chocolate, and ice cream. The people of the United States consume some 70 billion pounds a year of milk and milk products.
On many dairy farms there is a big barn where the cows stay when they are not out on pasture and where the milking is done. The second floor of the barn is a hay loft. Nearby are tall round buildings called silos. In them chopped green corn stalks and other such plant food is stored for the cows to eat in the winter. Other dairy farms have, instead of a barn, a low shed opening into a yard. The cows can come and go between the shed and yard. They are milked in a special milking room.
Dairy farming means much hard work. The cows and the barn or shed must both be kept very clean. The cows must be milked twice a day. The milk must be cooled and brought to a dairy. The silos must be filled, and crops must be planted. There are calves to be cared for.
Machines make dairying easier then it used to be. On most dairy farms there are milking machines, milk coolers, and manure loaders. There is farm machinery for helping raise food for the cattle. Tank trucks carry the milk to the dairy. At the dairy there are separators, pasteurizers, and bottling machines. There is much other equipment, too, for making the many different milk products.
The best dairy farms are in regions where there are good pastures. Wisconsin and New York are famous for such farms. In Europe, the Netherlands and Denmark are known for their rich dairy lands.