We pour a splash on our cereal, add it to a warming cup of tea and spread a bit on our bread – dairy products are one the most widely used and best-loved foods in Britain. But behind the milk, cheese and yoghurt we enjoy every day are thousands of people doing jobs many of us rarely see.
There are around 50,000 people working on dairy farms in the UK, but not all of them are farmers. There are a variety of jobs available in dairy - from engineering and technological vocations through to animal science, care and nutrition. Those working with dairy may spend their days milking and caring for the cows and calves on the farm; advising on feed or technology; or working as a vet or specialist in breeding.
Dairy farmers typically oversee the day-to-day running of the farm which involves caring for the animals, milking, preparing feed and ensuring the smooth running of machinery and equipment. And there are job opportunities available - according to Lantra, British farming will need least 6,000 new entrants every year until 2020.
With cow health and welfare a priority for dairy farmers, vets are an important part of the extended team on farm and some farm animal vets even specialise in dairy. They may visit the farm for a routine check-up, help deliver a calf, or work with the farmer to develop their herd health plans.
Agricultural consultants work with farmers to provide advice and help develop the farm. Consultants may advise dairy farmers in a number of areas - nutrition, the environment, breeding and waste management being just a few. They may also consult on business matters including planning or financial management.
Engineering is another important job in dairy. Farm engineers design, produce and service the sophisticated equipment dairy farmers use. With technology including robotic milking parlours and high tech computer systems, this can be vital expertise.
Because of the breadth of job roles, team work on dairy farms is incredibly important. The farm team wants to see happy and healthy cows; provide top quality dairy products; ensure surroundings are well-maintained; and run an efficient and sustainable operation using technology that suits their business. It's a challenging task - but one that is vital for bringing those much-loved dairy products from field to fork.