Learn about dairy production in Iowa during educational farm visits
AMES, Iowa – Iowans of all ages will have the chance to experience modern dairy farming this June, as the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach dairy team celebrates dairy month across the state.
Three dairy open houses are planned, beginning with the Iowa State University Dairy Open House, June 2, at the university farm south of Ames.
Visitors here will learn about cow comfort, dairy production and sustainability, view a live milking parlor in action, and take a guided tour of the farm with campus and extension staff. Tours and dairy treats will be available from 7 a.m. until noon.
On June 14, the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance and Hickory Hill Farms will welcome visitors to an on-farm dinner and tour of the Meissner family’s farm, located near Hospers. Participants will learn about the history and growth of this family farm, including the milking parlor and cow barns, from 4-8 p.m.
The Meissners started milking in the 1890s, in Sussex, Wisconsin. Today, Steve and Scott Meissner are milking 4,000 cows two times a day, in a double-32 parlor.
“We are excited to invite everyone to celebrate June dairy month with us by touring the farm and seeing where the dairy products they enjoy get their start,” said Steve Meissner. “Great-tasting dairy products start with healthy, comfortable cows, and we look forward to sharing how we care for animals and the land.”
Breakfast on the farm
On June 24, the public can enjoy Breakfast on the Farm, held from 8:30 a.m. until noon at Iowa’s Dairy Center in northeast Iowa, south of Calmar.
Organizers will serve a wholesome breakfast complete with Dad’s Belgian Waffles, sausage and delicious dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream – all locally produced and processed. Visitors can take a guided tour of the farm and there will be activities for all ages, including hand-milking a cow, a petting zoo, story time with a local dairy princess, cow inflatables and educational exhibits.
“The open houses help give everyone a better understanding of the principles and practices we use on modern dairies, including animal wellbeing, environmental care and product quality and safety,” said Gail Carpenter, state dairy specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Dairy is the fifth largest agricultural business in Iowa, generating $5.6 billion a year in economic activity from farming to dairy processing, supplying 22,000 jobs with a labor income of $891 million. The annual economic impact of a single dairy cow is more than $25,400 per cow.
- June 2, Iowa State Dairy Farm Open House from 7 a.m. until noon, located at 52470 260th St., Ames.
- June 14, Hickory Hill Farms, 4-8 p.m, located at 4045 400th St., Hospers, Iowa.
- June 24, Breakfast on the Farm, at Iowa’s Dairy Center, 8:30 a.m. until noon, located at 1527 Highway 150 S., Calmar, Iowa. Breakfast on the Farm will be held rain or shine. Donations are accepted the day of the event and parking is available on-site.
For more information, contact Fred Hall in northwest Iowa at 712-737-4230 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In northeast Iowa, Jenn Bentley is available at 563-382-2949 or email@example.com. Gail Carpenter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.