id you know that milk gets tested multiple times before it reaches the consumer? Or that a person would have to eat 16 cups of spinach to get the same amount of calcium that is in 1 glass of milk? Who knew that milk reaches the store only 48 hours after it leaves the farm?

     There are so many fun and amazing facts about this wholesome and healthy product that gets enjoyed each and everyday thanks to cows across the country and the dedicated farmers that care for them 365 days a year.A typical dairy cow can weigh anywhere from 1500 – 2000 pounds. Cows will generally eat about 100 pounds of food each day and drink anywhere from 30 – 50 gallons of water. On average, a dairy cow will produce around 70 pounds of milk each day, that’s almost 7 gallons of milk! Milk is stored in refrigerated tanks on dairy farms after leaving the cow. Before this milk leaves the farm, it is tested to ensure that no antibiotics are present in the milk. Once the tanker load of milk reaches the processing plant, it is once again tested before it is unloaded. If any trace amounts of antibiotics are ever detected that entire load of milk is immediately discarded and never reaches the plant, ensuring that ALL milk is free of antibiotics, no matter if the label states that or not. So, whether you choose regular or organic, you can feel good that milk is among the safest, most nutritious foods on the planet.

     Once milk leaves the farm, it takes only 2 days for this product to reach the store. Milk is one of the freshest products you can find at your local grocery store. 97% of dairies are still family owned, so you can support your local dairies by drinking milk! But how do you know where your milk comes from? You can find the answer on each container of milk that you purchase. Not only can you find the “use by date” on your milk carton, but you can also find the plant code printed on your container, letting you know where your milk came from.

Look for the 2-digit number at the beginning of a plant code, this is the number that corresponds to the originating state. A plant codes of 42 on milk means that milk was processed in Pennsylvania and sourced predominately from PA dairy farms. For those residents in Maryland, your plant code would start with 24. A complete list of plant codes and corresponding states can be found on the web.

We can be assured that there are never any antibiotics present in milk. Whole Milk is one of the simplest foods you can buy. Nothing added except for vitamin D. Some milk is advertised to be free of hormones. But hormones are never added to milk! Hormones are naturally occurring in all living things, so yes milk contains hormones. But there is a difference, hormones are never added to milk. Additionally, there is never any sugar added to milk! Milk contains zero added sugars and only 12 grams of natural sugar (lactose). That glass of milk is providing you 21 minerals, 13 vitamins, and contains all 9 amino acids needed for the body to build protein. No other drink can say that!  

     The complete list of what fluid milk contains is: 

  • Calcium: Helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It helps reduce the risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis later in life. Plays a role in promoting normal blood pressure.
  • Vitamin D: Helps absorb calcium for healthy bones.
  • Phosphorus: Works with calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones strong.
  • Riboflavin: Helps convert food into energy. Plays a vital role in the development of the central nervous system.
  • Protein: Helps build and maintain lean muscle, Contains all the essential amino acids (the building blocks for protein).
  • Vitamin B-12: Helps build red blood cells and helps maintain the central nervous system.
  • Potassium: Helps regulate the balance of fluid in the body and plays a role in maintaining a normal blood pressure.
  • Vitamin A: Important for good vision, healthy skin, and a healthy immune system.
  • Niacin: Helps the body’s enzymes function normally by converting nutrients into energy.
     Not only does milk provide vitamins and minerals, but whole milk is also 97% fat free! The primary types of milk available are whole milk (3.25% milk fat), reduced-fat milk (2%), low-fat milk (1%) and fat-free milk, also known as skim milk. While the amount of milk fat does affect the number of calories and fat in each serving, all milk remains a naturally nutrient-rich, simple and wholesome food.

     Recent studies have also indicated the benefits of drinking chocolate milk following exercise. Research suggests that drinking fat free chocolate milk after exercise can help the body retain, replenish, and rebuild muscle to help your body recover, and can even help prep muscles to perform better in a subsequent bout of exercise. Chocolate milk’s combination of carbohydrates and high-quality protein matched the ratio found to be most beneficial for recovery following workouts. Milk also provides fluids for rehydration and electrolytes, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium lost in sweat, that both recreational exercisers and elite athletes need to replace after strenuous activity. Penny-for-penny, no other post-exercise drink contains the full range of vitamins and minerals found in chocolate milk.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cassie Yost 
                                                                                                            Calf and Heifer Maanagement Educator