How Many Cows are on Canadian Dairy Farms?

Article 3 min

Dairy farms in Canada come in all shapes and sizes, and vary by region. But at an average size of 96 milking cows per farm, Canadian dairy farms might be smaller than you think.

By DFC - PLC, Communications Team
Dairy cows in a free-stall barn in Canada
Lac La Nonne Dairy in Red Deer, Alberta features a free-stall barn.


  • Averaging out 96 cows per farm, Canadian dairy farms might be smaller than you think
  • 98% of dairy farms in Canada are family-owned and operated

A glass of pure, Canadian milk—often the perfect match to a homemade cookie (and by “cookie”, we actually mean cookies—let’s be real with ourselves here), can be enjoyed because of the diligent and impassioned work of our local Canadian dairy farmers. Farmers who are meticulous about meeting the high standards required of Canadian dairy, all so you can feel good about the products you consume.

These dairy products are produced with the milk from a farm near you—anywhere across the country. Whether or not you’ve taken the time to picture what a dairy farm looks like, there’s a chance you may be in for a bit of a surprise.

Dairy farms: small, medium or big?

Canadian farms come in all shapes and sizes! Some small farms have 30 cows. And there are a handful that have close to 1000 cows. But what is a typical farm? For Canadian dairy farms, the average is 96 milking cows. Eastern Canada tends to have an average number that is lower (average of 75 to 95 cows per farm in Quebec and Ontario), while Western provinces tend to have an average number of 130 to 175 milking cows per farm. All farms—regardless of size, are subject to the same high standards and practices in terms of animal care, animal health, environmental sustainability and the purity of milk produced.

Statistics Canada reports that 98% of these farms are family-owned and operated. There’s a sense of community fostered in this industry. And the strong connections our farmers have to their profession comes through in the quality of the milk they produce. Big, medium or small, these farms produce some of the highest quality milk in the world. 

"As a proud 3rd generation dairy and cash crop farmer, I naturally grew up with a love of farming and had a strong passion for dairy cattle. My grandfather told me I would never work a day in my life if I loved what I was doing - and he was right!" — Paul, dairy farmer

Dairy farms across our great country

Canadian dairy farmers have been serving their local communities before “eating local” became a trend. The sector remains integral to the fabric of rural Canadian communities, across all 10 provinces. And, of course, supporting your local farmers means supporting fellow Canadians.

Fortunately, to make it easy for us to spot homegrown Canadian dairy, there’s a logo placed on many Canadian dairy products. As it is made with milk from farms near you, the same level of dairy excellence in farming can always be expected. So, when you bring out that cheese board to show your friends that you’re a real adult now, make sure you’re using only high quality dairy products! Keep an eye out for the logo. Although we can’t promise they’ll make up for whatever skills you may be lacking in the kitchen.  

In this great country of ours, we have access to the natural goodness of Canadian dairy. And across our beautiful land, our Canadian dairy farmers offer us wholesome milk that we can feel great about. So, keep local and look for the logo (because the logo means Canadian milk, produced to Canadian quality standards).

A bottle of milk with Blue Cow Logo
The Dairy Farmers of Canada logo is a simple way to identify products made with 100% Canadian milk and dairy ingredients.