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Principles of sustainable farming

While sustainable farming practices help reduce the industry’s impact on the environment, they have many other practical benefits. These practices reduce waste, increase efficiency and help dairy farmers maintain high Ontario milk standards. 

Making the most of the land

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

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. This helps prevent methane from escaping into the atmosphere and diverts it to be used to generate electricity. The remaining by-products can be used for fertilizer and even bedding for cows.

Helping improve our carbon footprint

Methane, a greenhouse gas, is a natural by-product of a cow's digestive process. Ongoing research and innovation in the areas of breeding and nutrition 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.

Measurement of greenhouse gas emissions is a useful indicator of environmental impact. 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.

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada

Biosecurity

Protecting the herd from animal diseases is an important part of running a safe and healthy farm. 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.

Read more about how dairy farmers maintain quality standards

Farming technology

Advances in technology have helped make cows more comfortable, healthy and productive.

Learn about farm technology

Regulatory procedures

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

Explore regulatory procedures

Animal care

Happy, healthy cows are more productive cows – and caring for them is an important responsibility.

Learn about animal care