Dairy farming is one of western Washington’s oldest agricultural enterprises. In fact, the first cows came to Washington in 1838. For those that may not know, there are two main types of cattle: Beef, and Dairy. While beef cows are typically more muscular and have been bread for meat production, Dairy cows have evolved to produce large amounts of milk and less muscle.
7 Major Dairy Cow Breeds:
- Brown Swiss
- Milking Shorthorns
- Dutch Belted
Holsteins with their familiar black-and-white hide markings are the most common breed, as is the case throughout the U.S.
There are approximately 460 dairy farms and 251,000 dairy cows in Washington (2010). The average herd size is 546 cows per farm. Dairy foods constitute the 2nd largest agricultural commodity produced in Washington, with a direct economic impact valued at $684 million. (http://www.progressivedairy.com)
Within Snohomish Conservation District there are roughly 30 active dairy farms.
Cow’s milk is composed of protein, carbohydrate, water-soluble vitamins, minerals and water (in fact, it is 87% water). It is especially rich in calcium, Vitamin D, riboflavin and phosphorus. It is also an important source of protein, Vitamin B-12, potassium, niacin and Vitamin A. The Dietary Guidelines released by USDA in 2005 recommend three servings of dairy products daily. (http://wadairy.com/)