Texas Organic Dairy No. 1

Texas has a rapidly growing organic dairy industry, and from 2019 to 2021 saw a large growth of organic dairy herds (+4 herds), peak cow numbers (+8,752 cows), milk volume (+193.4 million pounds), and sales value (+$59.2 million) (USDA NASS, 2022).

Texas holds the top rank for the volume of marketed organic milk (1 billion pounds of milk) with a value of $320.5 million in 2021 and ranks second to California for having the most cows producing certified organic milk (51,444).

Texas also ranks as the top state in three areas; milk sales by volume (1,015,247,902 lbs of milk); average cows per herd at peak (3,430); and milk sold per cow (19,735 lbs), making it an important state for research and extension efforts in organic dairy production.

Where are Texas organic dairies? We have 4 organic dairies in the Central Texas area near Stephenville and the rest are located from Muleshoe to Stratford in far north and west Texas. Organic dairies are required to provide access to grazing a minimum of 120 days during the year and only be fed organically produced feeds. What you may not know is that during the summer most of the grazing is done at night when possible. The cows love the cooler temperatures and so do the dairymen!

Also, did you know that cows need to lay down 12 out of 24 hours. This resting time is for chewing their cud and normal metabolic function. Their daily schedule is:

Eating3-5 hours (9-14 meals per day)
Lying down or resting12-14 hours
Standing or walking2-3 hours
Drinking water30 minutes

Any other time is devoted to milking and any herd health checkups.

Typically, a cow can be milked in 7 minutes and will be in the parlor area no more than 15 minutes from entering to leaving. Most organic dairies will try to limit pasture distance to less than a mile to help the cow and because of time. Remember there are only 24 hours in a day and every minute counts!!

Author: Bob Whitney, Regents Fellow & Extension Organic Specialist

Agriculturalist, extension educator and researcher, organic agriculture enthusiast and promoter, international program developer, Christian, husband, father and friend.

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