By: Meghan Hancock, Abigail Holden, Uday Sidhu, and Abraham Han
The field trip to Kentland Farm demonstrated several key ideas enforced in the “Milk 101” lectures. With great management of natural resources, the farm helped us realize the efforts needed to get a carton of milk on the table. We first visited the calves, at the Calf Center. This is where the calves are kept. They first are placed in individual pens called hutches. Eventually they are placed with other calves and are fed by an automatic system that scans the tags on their ears. The scan tells the machines how much to feed the calves. When the calves are old enough, they are weaned off of the colostrum (a special milk that the mothers produce) and placed in another area in the calf center to begin eating a special mix of corn, hay, soybean meal, and minerals. Once they are old enough, they head to the milking parlor. Kentland Farms operates a parallel milking parlor. In this parlor, the cows are lined up in two rows with their rears facing each other. The space between the two rows is where the dairy farmers set up the claws to obtain the milk from the cows. The manure pit was an essential part of the farm, as it provided the proper plumbing and sanitation for the cows. The cows can excrete whenever and wherever they please, and every hour or so there is a stream of water that flushes out all of the manure. From here, all of the waste gets flushed out to the two circular places toward the backend of the farm, where a motor constantly mixes the manure. After the sand and dirt is separated, a truck collects the manure and uses it as a natural fertilizer, creating an efficient system. Some of us had the privilege of witnessing a live birth in the special needs barn. Originally, the dairy farmers were concerned that it would be a difficult birth, but fortunately both the mother and calf were fine. Mr. Dave Winston, the leader of our group at the dairy farm, commented on how we “lucked out” with the incredible timing of our tour.