Sustainable farming

Sustainability projects on farms help reduce the industry’s impact on the environment and also have many other practical benefits. These practices reduce waste, increase efficiency and help dairy farmers maintain high Ontario milk standards.

Recycling methane to reduce carbon use

Methane, a greenhouse gas, is a natural by-product of a cow's digestive process. Ongoing research and innovation have helped reduce the amount of methane cows produce, while helping increase their milk production. The overall goal is to have less methane produced per litre of milk. The carbon footprint of Canada's milk production is currently 0.92 kg of CO2 per litre, which is among the lowest in the world.

Conserving resources

The three Rs of conservation are as important on the farm as they are in your home. Water used to clean feed alleys in the barn is often reused to irrigate crops, and cow manure is used as fertilizer. Some Ontario dairy farms use biogas digesters to reclaim methane from cow manure. The methane can be diverted and used to generate electricity while the remaining by-products can be used for fertilizer and even bedding for cows.

Making the most of the land

In addition to producing milk, many Ontario dairy farms grow hay and grains to feed the herd. Perennial crops, such as alfalfa and grass, can help stabilize soil while transferring carbon from the air, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Biosecurity

Protecting the herd from diseases is an important part of running a safe and healthy operation. Dairy farmers follow strict guidelines developed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to help reduce the risk of infection. These include twice daily cleaning procedures, segregation of newly arrived cows, and sanitary protocols for visitors

Dairy farming myths, debunked

Here are some common misconceptions about dairy farming.

Cows in milk production line

Are cows over-milked or overworked?

Actually, cows are milked two to three times per day, and for farms with robotic milking, each cow can decide when they want to be milked. They also have the freedom of choosing how many times a day they’re milked (some cows prefer three times a day, some less and some more).

Two young girls give water to a calf

Are cows given “growth hormones” to produce better milk?

No extra hormones are given to dairy cows. They have a natural hormone called BST that helps them produce milk. Plus, rbST, the artificial growth hormone, is strictly prohibited on Canadian dairy farms.

Jugs of milk in production line

Is there antibiotics in milk?

While there may be times when a veterinarian prescribes antibiotics to help a sick cow get well again, that cow’s milk is discarded for a mandatory period so that they have a chance to fully clear her system. All milk leaving the farm is then tested to verify that there is no trace of antibiotics or other contaminants.

A day in the life

A large barn at sunset

Wonder what it’s like to be a dairy farmer?

Explore the farm life

Explore responsible farming

Caring for cows

Keeping the herd healthy and happy is one of our farmers’ most important responsibilities – and they're committed to providing their cows with excellent care. 

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Regulations & inspections

Dairy farmers work with government organizations and industry partners to help maintain Ontario’s high milk standards.

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Managing supply

Milk supply is managed so that high-quality milk is always being produced for consumers.

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