During milk production, significant emissions of greenhouse gases occur as dairy cows are ruminants and produce methane during feed digestion. This is a natural and inevitable process. Milk products, however, have a lower climate impact than beef because the cow produces much more milk than meat in their lifetime. However, the climate impact will be greater in the case of cheese, for example, than for eggs, chicken and pig (6-11 kg of CO2e/1 kg of cheese).
An important aspect for reducing methane emissions from milk production is to work towards reduced mortality, increased fertility and reduced medication. Healthy and fertile dairy cows can produce milk for a long time. A dairy cow that is ill produces less than a healthy cow, and if she is medicated, the milk cannot be delivered to the dairy, i.e., there is less milk produced to spread the greenhouse gas emissions over. Low mortality in calves, young stock and cows in combination with good fertility usually also means a low frequency of veterinary treatments. Animal protection requirements in the procurement of milk products help to improve animal health in dairy cows.
The Swedes' consumption of dairy products has recently moved towards increasingly processed products. The consumption of drinking milk has however decreased with an increase in the consumption of cheese, yoghurt and sour milk.