Saturday, November 25, 2017

Open Farm Day 2017: Visiting a Dairy Farm

In August Alberta has Open Farm Days that encourages farms to host visitor days so that people can see how farms work and where their food comes from. I visited a nearby town and went on a bus tour that took us to several farms. One raised goats for meat, one beef cattle, a grain operation, and a dairy farm.

Here's some pictures and info on the dairy farm!

(Here's another blogger that was on the tour and did the evening long table supper.)

 When we got off the bus we were given super sexy boot covers so that we wouldn't track anything into the barn. They paired well with the shorts several people were wearing.

The little guy above had just been born that morning so we cooed over him before being shown between the two large pens that hold the cattle. I don't recall the breed of the cattle but they aren't a strictly-milk breed like the traditional black and white Holsteins. When the cattle have finished their milking seasons they're sold for meat and this breed does well for both uses while milk-breeds don't sell for meat well.

This giant contraption is like a Roomba vacuum. It periodically goes down the isles and pushed the feed closer to the cattle. Full cattle are happy cattle. Kinda like me, actually. The white part of the body slowly spins to gather and push the feed into place as it moves. This machine, and the barn itself, isn't very old and has a lot of cool milking advances in it to make life better for the cattle and the farmers.

One of the advances is a milking machine. The cattle are trained (lured in with treats) to go into a milking stall where a machine cleans their teats and milks them twice a day. The computer reads their collars and records info to make sure they, and the milk, are healthy before being put into the communal container. If the milk isn't healthy because of medicine or recent calving the milk is put in different containers and disposed of or taken to the calves. While we watched the milking there was a line up of cows wanting to be milked, including one that had been milked twice all ready and was trying to get more treats.

 In the picture below you can see the collars each cow wears. It has their number on it and the computer chip that works the milking machine and tracing system. If one cow were to be sold to a farm with the same system they could transfer over all her info with ease. Can you read the ear tags? This farm names each calf by their mother's name- either the same letter or same theme. So Blaze might give birth to Ember and Wanda might have Whitney.

This dairy farm just sells their milk to larger companies for sale but another near by dairy farm is Primrose Farms and they sell their milk and a variety milk products at farmer's markets.

Did you visit anywhere for Open Farm Day or have you visited a dairy farm before?