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A day at the dairy

By Staff | Jun 15, 2017

Sara Kvidera shows two newborn dairy calves at the ISU Dairy open house.



AMES – Hundreds of visitors to Iowa State University’s Dairy Farm had the opportunity to gain insight into the dairy industry during the ninth annual open house last week.

The open house, held June 9, started early when the first round of milking was just about to end at 6 a.m., with tours given by ISU dairy faculty and students.

The tour began in the milking center, where visitors had the opportunity to view through a window cows being milked. The tour followed that milk straight to the milking parlour.

Stephanie Clark, a professor at ISU in the food science department, explained the cooling down process of the milk.

Clark explained the milk comes to the holding tanks at 101 degrees but is quickly cooled to 60 degrees with the aid of a cool water cooling system.

The water used to cool the milk is then filtered through for the cows to drink.

“The cows like warm the warm water,” she said.

The milk doesn’t stay at the 60 degree temperature too long, however, as it has to be chilled to 38 to 40 degrees, where Clark said they constantly keep a watch at the temperature and, by law, keep that documented.

Visitors were taken by truck and trailer on a tour of the rest of the dairy farm, where they had the chance to visit the dairy barns to see where calves from two weeks of age up to a year are kept while they mature to become milk cows. The sick barn, barn with pregnant cows and the holding barns were also shown on the tour.

Sara Kvidera recently graduated with a Ph.D. in dairy nutrition. She was on hand for the ISU Dairy open house to answer questions and showcase two newborn dairy calves for visitors to pet.

“The open house is a good opportunity to see new technology we are using and to see how milk is made and processed,” she said. “It’s not every day you get to step on to a dairy farm.”

The ISU Dairy Farm sits on 887 acres and features 400 milking cows, with each cow producing around 84 pounds of milk a day.

According to ISU, Iowa ranks 12th in the nation in the number of pounds of milk produced, cow numbers and milk produced per cow. Iowa is also home to approximately 1,400 dairy farms, which include 216,000 dairy cows and 200 dairy goat farms.

The ISU Dairy Farm open house coincides with June, which is dairy month, and its celebrations.

Sponsors include Midwest Dairy Association, Hy-Vee, Iowa State Dairy Association, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Swiss Valley Farms, the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation and Hiland-Dairy Foods.

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