Climate & Environment
Dairy farms are continually working towards overall sustainability. Compared to farms in 1960 today's dairy farms are on average producing almost three times more milk with about half the number of cows thanks to genetic improvements, better feed nutrition, and improved cow comfort, including reduced heat stress, better ventilation and stall design, as well as other management practices. Farmers are evaluating how they can reduce potential externalities, including air quality impacts, water quality impacts, and any impact on microbial resistance.
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Odor and emissions
- Greenhouse gas from dairy manure
- Anaerobic digestion and GHG emissions
Antibiotics are chemicals that kill or impede bacterial growth. Parallel to their use and importance for human health, antibiotics are important medicines used on dairy farms to prevent and treat bovine bacterial infections. When antibiotics are administered to dairy cattle, milk and meat withholding times are strictly followed to prevent antibiotic residues from entering the food system.
Antibiotic Resistance (AR) is a naturally occurring process where previously susceptible bacteria develop the ability to resist the effects of an antibiotic. The use of both human and veterinary antibiotics has accelerated antibiotic-resistant bacteria development.
Information found on this page was developed under USDA funding that supports work to investigate and report on the efficacy of dairy manure treatment systems to mitigate antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Antibiotic Residues in Dairy Manure
- Part 1: Critically important antimicrobials labeled for dairy use (2017)
- Part 2: Sampling dairy manure for antibiotic detection (2017)
- Part 3: Laboratory methods for extracting antibiotic residues in dairy manure (2017)
- Part 4: Laboratory methods for analyzing antibiotic residues extracted from dairy manure (2017)
- Part 5: What is known about antibiotic residues in dairy manure? (2017)
Antimicrobial Resistance and Dairy Manure Systems
- Antibiotic residuals and solid-liquid separation of dairy manure (2020)
- Antibiotic residuals and composting of dairy manure (2020)
- Antibiotic residuals and anaerobic digestion of dairy manure (2020)
- Fate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in dairy manure treated by anaerobic digestion and composting (2020)
- Fate of antibiotic resistance genes in dairy manure treated by anaerobic digestion and composting (2020)
- Impact on Antibiotic Resistance by a Solid-Liquid Separator - Rotary Drum Composter Manure Treatment System on a New York State Dairy Farm (2020)
- Antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB)
- Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs)
Odor and Emissions from dairy operations are an environmental and societal concern. While addressing odor is a neighbor relations concern, emissions such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are potential health, air quality, and regulatory concerns. Odor and emissions can come from three primary source locations on a dairy farm: animal facilities, manure storages, and land application of manure.
Dairy Manure Odor Perception and Management series (2020)
Biofilters for Point-Source Gaseous Emissions from Dairies (2016)
Additional management resources
Climate Change & Greenhouse Gases
Climate and weather are an important management concern for animal agriculture. The intent of this web page is to assist those involved in animal agriculture to prepare and respond to current weather and the potential for a changing climate.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are increasingly important due to their tie to climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many other agencies have performed research to quantify where most emissions come from and where we can reduce them.
Leading scientists throughout the U.S., as well as the EPA, have quantified the impacts of livestock production in the U.S., which accounts for 4.2 percent of all GHG emissions.