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Arkansas Dairy Cattle

Holstein Dairy Cow
Holstein Heifer (Photo Courtesy of USDA)

Dairy production is an important part of American agriculture. Milk and other dairy products from cows and goats remains a staple in the diets of most Americans. A trip to the grocery store's dairy case shows the variety of products resulting from the milk. Fluid milk is available in several varieties - Skim Milk (0% fat), 1%, 2%, and Whole (approximately 3.5%). Raw milk is separated into skim milk and cream, and then re-blended to a standard fat content for each product. Because cows' milk averages more than 3.5% fat, the extra cream is used to make other liquid products like whipping cream, half and half, and eggnog or it is manufactured into butter or ice cream. Fluid milk in the U.S. is pasteurized (milk is pasteurized by rapidly heating it to 72 - 75 °C for 15 to 20 seconds, and then quickly cooling) to kill potentially harmful bacteria. Fluid milk is also homogenized (fat droplets are dispersed so they do not float to the top) and is fortified with vitamins A and D, which along with the absorbable calcium naturally in milk are needed for strong healthy bones and teeth. Over the most recent two decades, fluid milk consumption per capita has declined, and sales of low-fat milk have increased relative to whole milk. Recent innovative marketing of convenient single servings of milk and introduction of a wide variety of milk flavors have increased sales of individual servings.

Cows that have concluded their production in the herd, are utilized for production of ground beef. Dairy veal and dairy steers are sold in similar markets and under identical USDA grading systems to more traditional beef breed steers. Byproducts of dairy beef production include leather, fertilizer, cosmetics, glue, and pharmaceuticals.

Across the United States the number of dairy cows in 2013 was unchanged but the number of dairy cows in Arkansas decreased 18 percent from 11,000 in 2012 to 9,000 in 2013. There was also a decrease in dairy goat numbers. There are less than 100 dairies currently in Arkansas.

The 4-H Dairy Project is still a popular livestock enterprise for youth throughout the state. Dairy cattle are popular show animals at county, district and Arkansas State Fairs. There are also leadership activities available such as dairy judging, state dairy camp, dairy quiz bowl, and dairy skillathon.



  • Publications
    • FSA3046 Breeding Soundness Evaluation for Beef and Dairy Bulls PDF
    • FSA3137 Annual and Perennial Forage Clovers for Arkansas PDF
    • FSA4000 Alfalfa for Dairy Cattle PDF
    • FSA4005 Dairy Production and Management Records PDF
    • FSA4007 Dairy Reproductive Management Using Artificial Insemination PDF
    • FSA4008 Body Condition Scoring With Dairy Cattle PDF
    • FSA4014 Factors Affecting Milk Composition of Lactating Cows PDF
    • FSA4018 Aflatoxin M1 in Milk PDF
    • FSA4019 Cooling Dairy Cattle in the Holding Pen PDF
    • FSA7031 Controlling Horn Flies on Cattle PDF


For more information contact:

Animal Science Department
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2301 S. University Avenue
Little Rock, Arkansas 72204
Phone: 501-671-2000

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