How Dairy Cows Can Help Reduce Food Waste

Guest blogger, Amanda Rees is the 2018-2019 Montgomery County Dairy Princess

Did you know that Pennsylvania is fifth in the nation for population size? And with a large population comes food waste.

As a senior studying Animal science and Dairy Science at Delaware Valley University, I am currently assisting in a research project on dairy cows fed a ration (diet) of expired fruit, vegetables and bakery products.

In the study, there are eight Holstein dairy cows being fed a mixture of produce and bakery waste with added minerals and corn silage. The research is tracking how the food waste ration effects the cows’ milk production to determine if using food waste is a viable option for dairy farmers and food businesses alike.

The Delaware Valley University dairy farm receives a weekly shipment of the produce and bakery waste from local supermarkets, keeping these items out of landfills and saving the grocery store from paying to dispose of the expire items. The shipment varies from week to week; depending on the produce in season, and can contain anything from onions, bagels and potatoes to pineapples, grapefruits and rolls. 

The dairy cows are give a special feed ration that includes the discarded items. The research team is tracking the milk production of the cows as well as the feed intake (which can help predict the palatability (taste) of the special ration.)

Currently, the results are showing that the study cows are doing well on the special feed and maintaining a slightly below average milk production. But, the advantages of using food waste as a feed supplement could outweigh the slight loss in production.

What an exciting opportunity! I am so proud to be a part of this research which could not only benefit Pennsylvania dairy farmers but benefit our state’s population as a whole.

Check out this fun infographic from to see other ways dairy farmers are honoring the harvest and helping to reduce food waste.