Wisconsin is renowned for its dairy production, with a proud heritage of cheese-making that dates back to the 1840s. To this day, the state is one of the largest producers of dairy products in the United States. At Knigge Farms in Omro, visitors can get a glimpse into the future of dairy farming. This authentic dairy farm is one of the first in Wisconsin to use automatic milkers for cows and feeders for calves.
Wisconsin dairies produce a variety of products from milk processing, with cheese and butter being the most notable. Research being carried out on the UW campus in Madison could even lead to plastic made from milk becoming a reality. The state requires that cheese production be carried out or supervised by a licensed cheesemaker, as it is the only state in the U. S.
Department of State that requires certification. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets its target price for milk and it does so for milk produced in Eau Claire. All other dairies in the country calculate their mileage from Eau Claire and use that number to calculate their price. Dairy farms produce the equivalent of 49,000 teragrams, or 49 million trillion grams, of carbon dioxide every year. By 1915, Wisconsin had become the leading dairy producing state, second only to California in 1993. However, tariffs on dairy products have largely contributed to a decline in productivity in Wisconsin. In the late 19th century, cheese production shifted from farms to specialized factories, resulting in higher quality cheese.
In the early 20th century, Stephen Babcock designed the “single-grain experiment” to determine what diet to feed dairy cattle for the best results. Discovering ways to use leftovers turns them from waste to by-products and provides an opportunity to add value to the dairy industry again. This process not only produces a more environmentally friendly product but also increases the sustainability of the dairy industry as a whole.