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dairyDid you know that milk is a local food? In just 48 hours, milk travels from the cow to a grocery store near you!

Recently, a group of WIC nutritionists from across the state had the opportunity to visit Great Brook Farm in Carlisle, Massachusetts, to learn about dairy farming. Farmer Mark Duffy and his daughter, Marlow, described a typical day on the farm and shared their dairy farming practices with us. Their Holsteins eat a diet of forage, hay and silage and drink up to 30 gallons of water a day! The gestation period for cows is similar to humans and a baby calf will receive mother’s milk for about 5 days. After giving birth, the cows continue to produce milk for human consumption for up to 12 months. Great Brook Farm has a robotic milking system that works 365 days a year. The machine has a robotic arm that senses exactly where the cow’s teats are, making the process efficient compared to conventional milking. While the cow is being milked, the machine dispenses a snack of sweet grain – a good motivation to return. Each cow wears a tracking necklace that allows farmers to record the cow’s daily movements!

Dairy foods are a great source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, but how much dairy should we offer our children in one day? For children, we recommend 3 servings a day that includes milk, cheese or yogurt. What counts as one serving? One 8-oz. cup of milk, a 1½-oz. of cheese or an 8-oz. cup of yogurt is equivalent to one serving. For additional resources, visit the New England Dairy and Food Council’s website: http://www.newenglanddairycouncil.org and click on the Healthy Living section.

Visiting a dairy farm is a great way to support local dairy farms and to learn where your dairy products come from. To find a dairy farm near you, use the MassGrown Map: http://massnrc.org/farmlocator/map.aspx and search for dairy farms. There are 25 dairy farms in Massachusetts. Many have a farm store open year round that feature their own milk, cheese and yogurt!

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WIC Nutritionist

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