In the early days, cattle were used to produce milk for the family that owned them. As people gradually moved into the cities, farmers began to buy more cows and produce enough milk to sell to their neighbors. In the early 1930s, the importance and size of the dairy industry grew rapidly. Refrigeration, pasteurization and homogenization are some of the technological advances that helped the dairy industry grow. Today, the size of dairy farms varies in the number of cows, but most are still family-owned. A cow that is raised to produce milk is called a dairy cow. In Louisiana, the most common dairy cow is the

Holstein, which is black and white. One dairy cow can eat as much as 20 pounds of grain and 30 pounds of hay per day. This enables them to produce as much as 12 gallons of milk per day. Most farms are located in the southeast part of the state in Tangipahoa, Washington and St. Helena Parishes. 


Milk is sold by the producer in quantities called “hundredweights,” or 100-pound units. A gallon of milk is equal to eight pounds. Most of the milk produced from cows in Louisiana goes into fluid milk and ice cream. Some is used for cheese, yogurt and sour cream. In other states, milk is often sold in powdered form. Powdered milk, or its separated proteins, can be added to a wide variety of foods, such as baby formula and macaroni and cheese mix. Today, most milk is pasteurized and homogenized before it is sold. Pasteurization is the process of heating liquids for the purpose of destroying viruses and harmful organisms such as bacteria, protozoa, molds, and yeasts. The process was named after its inventor, French scientist Louis Pasteur. The first pasteurization test was completed by Pasteur and Claude Bernard on April 20, 1862. Homogenization of milk prevents or delays the natural separation of milk. The fat in milk normally separates from the water and collects at the top. Homogenization is the process of breaking up that fat into smaller sizes so that it no longer separates from the milk, allowing the sale of non-separating 2% and whole milk. This is accomplished by forcing the milk at high pressure through small orifices. Milk is often referred to as nature’s most perfect food. It contains almost every element needed in human diets, including calcium, protein, minerals and vitamins.

Dairy products are vital in building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Important nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein are found in dairy. Along with contributing to improved bone health, dairy products also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.  A few healthy sources of dairy are non-fat/low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt. Depending on age, having 2-3 cups of dairy every day is recommended as part of a healthy diet. See the chart below to discover how much dairy you should have in your diet!


  • Holstein: Black and white markings; most popular dairy cow breed, used for drinking milk production 

  • Jersey: Brown or tawny hide with light-colored underbelly; milk is high in butterfat, which makes the milk perfect for making butter or cheese 

  • Guernsey: Golden red with white markings; milk has high amounts of beta carotene, high in butterfat to make good cheese  

  • Ayrshire: Reddish-brown coloring with white markings; milk is high in butterfat and protein.

  • Brown Swiss: Gray or light to dark-brown coat; milk has the closest protein to fat ratio of any breed, making the milk good for making cheese 

  • Milking Shorthorn: Red with white markings, white, or roan; favorable protein to fat ratio, making it good for cheese  


  1. Dairy cattle convert feed energy to milk production. A cow produces milk in her udder. Milk is released through the udder’s four teats.

  2. Cows are milked in a milking parlor where the teats are cleaned and attached to a milking machine.

  3. The milk is piped immediately to refrigerated storage tanks.

  4. The milk is transported daily, in large stainless steel tanker trucks, to processing facilities. 

  5. The milk is pasteurized, homogenized, and processed into many products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream.

  6. A variety of dairy products are available to meet the tastes and nutritional needs of consumers. 


  • Cow - A female that has calved 

  • Heifer - A female that has not calved

  • Homogenize  - Fat droplets are broken into smaller sizes so they no longer separates from the milk

  • Milking Parlor - Facility where cows are milked 

  • Pasteurize - Process of sterilization involving heat treatment to make the milk safe for consumers 

  • Teats - The nipples on the mammary gland where milk is sucked out by the young 

  • Udder - The mammary gland on the cow that holds milk and is between the two hind legs 

Holiday Egg Nog
Yield: about one gallon.

  • 5 eggs, separated

  • 1/3 cup sugar, divided

  • 1 quart milk

  • 2 quarts vanilla ice cream (softened)

  • Ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg to taste

  • Bourbon to taste (about 1/3 cup)

  • ¼ cup sugar

  1. Beat egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar until light and fluffy.

  2. Stir in milk, softened ice cream, spices, and bourbon.

  3. Beat egg whites with remaining sugar until they peak.

  4. Spread meringue over mixture; sprinkle with additional spices.

  5. Chill several hours or overnight.

Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 52
Submitted by Marie Bordelon of Avoyelles Parish