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Got milk
Here are some dairy industry facts:
•Indiana has 2,000 dairy farms
•There are 84 cows in the average Indiana dairy herd
•The average U.S. cow will produce nearly 7 gallons a day over the course of a typical year – nearly 2,500 average gallons a year
•U.S. dairy farms produce almost 196 billion pounds of milk annually
Source: and the American Dairy Association of Indiana
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Those attending the Indiana Milk Quality Conference listen to consultant Fabian Bernal at Hall’s Guesthouse on Tuesday.

Dairy expert gives milk-output tips

Cow care is crucial to milk quality – even if that means talking to the livestock.

Hey, it works on plants.

“You have to be aware of how they’re feeling,” said Fabian Bernal, a dairy consultant for the Dairy Farmers of America. “The more you can put them in natural surroundings, the better.”

Bernal spoke to about 70 dairy professionals Tuesday during the 2013 Indiana Milk Quality Conference at Don Hall’s Guesthouse in Fort Wayne. The two-day event, ending today, is hosted by the Indiana Milk Quality Professionals Inc.

Organizers are expecting more than 200 dairy enthusiasts to take part in the forum, featuring various talks, presentations and activities.

Bernal showed videos of farms where the livestock were kept in dirty, dimly lit and cramped areas.

“You see that?” he said, motioning to the screen. “It’s like (even) the cow is looking at it and saying, ‘Really?’ ”

Bernal also reminded audience members that depending on a cow’s age, its teats remain open 20 minutes to an hour after milking, so keeping them covered with some type of anti-bacterial substance will prevent manure or other impurities from causing contamination. Bernal said most farmers are cognizant of such precautions.

“But sometimes it’s tough because they’re worried about (production),” but dairy providers can’t be hasty, he said.

“That’s when trouble starts,” Bernal said.

Andy Gall is board president of the Indiana Milk Quality Professionals. He said attendees might have heard warnings like Bernal’s before, but reminders are useful.

“Sure, they’re all aware, but there could be that little snippet of information where someone says, ‘Hey, I didn’t know that,’ ” Gall said.

More than 51,000 U.S. dairy farms provide milk, cheese and yogurt to the nation and other countries, according to the American Dairy Association of Indiana. About 97 percent of all dairy farms are family-owned. On dairy farms, the average herd size is 115 cows. Farms with more than 100 cows produce 85 percent of the milk.

Bernal said production like that is the result of responsible farmers .

“There’s only about 2 percent to 3 percent of small farmers who may not be taking care of their cows the way they should,” he said. “Most dairy farmers are doing the right thing.”