The dairy industry today produces 59 percent more milk with 64 percent fewer cows that eat 77 percent less feed and drink 65 percent less water per cwt of milk produced compared with dairy production in 1944, reports Dairy Heard Management, citing research in the Journal of Dairy Science.
Researchers analyzed the sustainability of the US dairy industry from 1944 to 2012 and found advances in genetics, nutrition and herd management have resulted in greater efficiency — more than a four-fold increase in milk yield and a reduction in farms and cows.
The paper also identifies factors that will affect the future sustainability of the US dairy industry including climate change and scientific and technological innovation and advances.
Earlier this year the Innovation Center for US Dairy published a guide to help dairy companies and farms measure and report on sustainability. The Stewardship and Sustainability Guide for US Dairy identifies indicators for assessing dairy sustainability and communicating results. The indicators are based on scientific life cycle assessment studies commissioned by the Innovation Center, and the practical experience of industry members and others from nongovernmental, academic and government organizations.
Walmart’s supplier engagement tool, the Sustainability Index, is transforming dairy sustainability, writes Cheryl Baldwin, a senior consultant for sustainability consulting firm Pure Strategies, in an August Environmental Leader column.