Many people don’t think of dairy farming when they think of Utah. Honestly, what comes to my mind first are mountains and national parks (which after you check out some of their farms, you’ll need to do some sight-seeing and skiing, too).
When I decided to go out there for college, I wasn’t sure what their dairy industry had to offer. I did know that Utah State University (USU) in Logan had a dairy research farm and a dairy science club where I could at least find some students and professors who shared some of my common experiences.
It wasn’t until I went out there for my first semester of college that I realized the small, tight-knit community of dairy farms are diverse, well-managed, and many are early adopters of new technologies and practices.
Below is the 101 on Utah’s dairy industry.
- There are about 180 licensed dairy farms in the state.
- The total number of dairy cows is around 97,000.
- A cow in Utah produces on average 23,316 pounds of milk per lactation.
- The average herd size is 540 cows.
- Our largest dairy has a milking herd of 7,200 cows.
- We process a little bit of everything here. Our well-known cheese plant, Gossner’s, makes Swiss Cheeses for many different companies and ships worldwide. The Dannon yogurt plant in Salt Lake City supplies Dannon yogurt for the whole western United States. USU even processes its own ice cream on campus. If you ever visit I recommend trying their Aggie Blue Mint!
- A well-known dairy pioneer from Utah is the late Bliss H. Crandall. Founder of DHI Computing Services Inc., Crandall is credited as the father of computerizing dairy records. He developed his own dairy record keeping system that was recently known as DHI-Provo, now renamed Amelicor.
- Richmond, Utah, is home to the longest running dairy cattle show, the Western Spring National Holstein Show. Last spring was its 103rd year.
- In Utah, currently five dairies have installed robotic milking systems. We have more early adopters compared to other Western states. Utah State’s Caine Dairy Research Center is also one of the first universities to have milking robots. Professors and students from the university have just started doing research with the robots.
- Utah State’s Caine Dairy Research Center was also named the number one BAA (Breed Age Average) college herd in 2017.
Dairy farms in Utah are scattered around the state in pockets, but a large number of them can be found in Cache Valley, around Logan. If you ever make it out that way, I would be happy to show you a couple dairies and around the USU campus. Go Aggies!
Christy Achen is the 2018 Hoard's Dairyman summer editorial intern. She grew up on a dairy farm in southwest Kansas. Achen is currently a senior at Utah State University studying agricultural communications and journalism.