I don’t know much about animal agriculture on a personal level. We are a crop farm, so when I started to get questions regarding the use of antibiotics in milk production I headed to the source for some good information.
And here he is…let me introduce you to Derrick Josi, also known as Tillamook Dairy Farmer! Tillamook Dairy Farmer has been on a mission to let people know more about the diary industry and milk (check out and like his Facebook page). Derrick is a fourth generation dairyman in the heart of Tillamook, Oregon. They raise their cows on 450 acres, milking 500 jersey cows every single day! Much of the milk his cows produce is used for (obviously) milk in the grocery store, cheese (my favorite, Tillamook Cheese), and even coffee creamer.
I asked a few questions of this Dairy farmer specifically about antibiotics and their cows that they milk, here is what he had to say…
Do you use antibiotics on your dairy cows?
Yes we do. We use them sparingly when they are needed. For example if a cow gets mastitis or Pneumonia.
This was shared on his Facebook page awhile back…
“I was excited to video how we handle cows that are on antibiotics for you tonight! Got in the parlor and looked at our white board where we write the girls number and treatment. Only to find out that on our farm of five hundred milk cows we have zero cows being treated. Which makes it really hard to video our procedure. On the flip side it’s a testament to our procedures. Usually we average 3-5 cows being treated.”
Do antibiotics show up in your milk, even in trace amounts?
Antibiotics do not show up in our milk. When we have a cow being treated her milk withheld and dumped. It is tested before we allow her to be milked into the tank. Our milk is tested by the milk truck driver before he allows it to leave the farm. If our milk were to test positive the whole tank of 5000 gallons would be dumped. We would be fined and lose the revenue from the milk.
What is the best way for me to know that I’m getting the safest milk possible when buying at the grocery store? For example should I buy organic, hormone free, all natural, or just regular?
All milk is safe and healthy at the store. They are identical in taste and quality. All types are tested and free of antibiotics (yes, even organic is tested). Anyone who tells you there’s a difference is trying to sell you something.
So my answer to the “issue” of antibiotics in milk, is that there actually is no issue at all, all milk sold at the grocery store is antibiotic free!
So is it worth it to buy organic just because you don’t want antibiotics?
Not in the least. Like was said before, yes antibiotics are used on cows that produce the wonderful milk that we all enjoy. But that doesn’t mean that it gets in your milk, the milk is tested and safe. I actually sat down and looked at the price difference between buying organic versus conventional and wow was I surprised! Organic milk at my grocery store is $6.79 a gallon, regular milk is $3.69. It’s almost twice the cost! And when I do the math, it would cost my family $483.60 more a year in just milk!!!
I hope this helps to clear up some misconceptions. If you have any questions be sure to post them! Also a big thank you to Tillamook Dairy Farmer for helping us all to see a little of the reality that is Dairy Farming. Check out his Facebook page where you will get, in his own words, “…a live experience on the day to day activities on my dairy. Sometimes it will be sarcasm like the meme about the cold weather. Other times cute and heartwarming pictures of cows and calves (just wait till spring when they are back out on pasture).”
Here is another link that has some great information:
Milk & Antibiotics: What you need to know