History of Wisconsin Cheese

Cheese is the main focus of Wisconsin’s dairy business. In fact, the cheese making industry uses about ninety percent of Wisconsin’s total milk production. Wisconsin produces a total of five hundred different varieties, styles, and types of cheese such as Colby, Brick cheeses, and Baby Swiss which are all originally made in Wisconsin. But the leading types of cheese that are produced in the state are American, Cheddar, and Mozzarella.  But how did cheese making became one of the famous industries in Wisconsin and how did it all start? That’s what we’re going to find out in this article.


Almost all of the earliest commercial dairy in the state of Wisconsin produced cheese because back in that time when transportation was limited, cheese lasts more than milk or butter when it is stored. One of the earliest cheese makers in Wisconsin is Charles Rockwell, he began the producing cheese in 1837 at Koshkonong near Fort Atkinson. About four years after that, a lady named Anne Picket started a cheese factory in Lake Mills by using milk from her neighbor’s cow. In the 1940s, Wisconsin farmers started to focus on improving the quality of their herds while the cheesemakers began to research and think of different improvements on how to manufacture cheese and butter. Years after that, Wisconsin became home to more than 1,500 cheese factories that produce about 500 million pounds of cheese every year. Since then, the state of Wisconsin has been identified with cheese. since 1910, Wisconsin has claimed the title as the largest cheese-producing state in the United States. in 2006, there was an article that was published by the New York Times that says cheese is Wisconsin’s pride and history.

There is no denying that some practices and traditions of cheesemaking in Wisconsin came from the early European settlers in the state. In fact, they still use their traditional cheese making techniques in Wisconsin. While a number of tasty and delicious kinds of cheese are made in Europe, there are several varieties of cheese like Colby and Brick that originated in the state of Wisconsin. As the years go by, the special cheese making process that is blended with expertise and some modern technology has made a legacy and foundation for Wisconsin to have the most demanding but satisfying cheese making standards. To be able to maintain their reputation as the largest cheese-producing state in the country, Wisconsin required their dairy farmers cheese grading and cheese making license. That’s why until today, there is no other state in the country that has higher standards in cheese making than Wisconsin.

Today, there is an estimated 35000 dairy farms in Wisconsin that sell milk and there over 1,800,000 million cows that produce about 13,500 pounds of milk every year. Seventy-four percent of that milk is used to make cheese. The cheese industry in Wisconsin produces about two billion pounds of cheese annually. And today, they produce about five hundred styles, varieties, and types of cheese and all of them are available from Wisconsin’s talented and skillful cheesemakers.

Fun Facts About Wisconsin Cheese

Aside from producing some of the world’s best cheeses, there are other facts about Wisconsin cheese most of you don’t know about such as:

About twenty-three percent of dairy farms in the United States are in Wisconsin

But almost all dairy farms in Wisconsin contains about 145 cows each. That’s almost 100 less than the average number in the United States.

In Wisconsin, you can be a certified cheesemaker

To become an official cheesemaker in Wisconsin, you have to have ten years of experience in cheese making, a sequence of formal courses, exams, and quality assurance programs. But after all of that hard work, you will earn the title of a certified cheesemaker and your products will have a special seal that will add another level of consumer trust on your products.

In 2017, Wisconsin produced about thirty billion pounds of milk

You need ten gallons of milk to produce one pound of cheese so can you imagine how much milk Wisconsin produce and use just to bring us quality tasting cheeses?

Almost ninety-six percent of dairy farms in Wisconsin are family owned

There is a Cow First program that exists in the state. This program rewards farmers for their humane animal practices.

Farmers in Wisconsin strongly believe that happy cows produce better tasting cheese. That’s why they make it a point that they are humane as possible when it comes to handing their cows. In return, the dairy farmers receive some incentives for ensuring that cows have an excellent quality of life.