Celebrating National Dairy Month: A Rich History and Vital Role in Kansas Agriculture

By Trish Svoboda

June is National Dairy Month. According to The Dairy Alliance, grocer organizations began sponsoring National Dairy Month in 1937, and in 1939, June officially became the month of dairy.

Immigrants brought cattle with them from Europe in the early 1600s to supply dairy and meat to their families, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that breeds of cattle were developed specifically for dairy. At the turn of the century, the necessity to mass-produce milk became evident, thus came inventions like milking machines, commercial milk bottles, pasteurization equipment, refrigerated milk tank cars, and more.

Today, about 98% of dairy farms are family-owned and operated. Dairy Max estimates that in Kansas, there are around 190 dairy farms with a total of about 176,000 milk cows, making the state 17th in number of dairy cows. Each farm has a herd size of around 926 milking cows that produce an average of 2,760 gallons of milk per year, per cow.

Kansas is home to seven dairy processing plants, with about 75% of milk produced being processed in the state. In 2023, the value of milk processed in Kansas totaled over $1 billion.

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