Fair Oaks Farms a New Industry Leader

Farming 32, 000 dairy cattle seems to be quite an intense and daunting task, but to the folks at Fair Oaks Farms it’s just another usual daily routine.  I came across the farm in a video that my Dad showed me at breakfast one morning after we had just finished our own am chores.  At first I was astonished that they are such a large farm and could not get past the fact that they produce over 2.5 million lbs on 25000 acres of land.  After it settled  in I was amazed at how well they market to the public a positive outlook on large scale dairy farming.

I was specifically surprised at the message that they send to visitors that ‘ agriculture and the environment are compatible, agriculture and animal welfare are compatible and that milk is good for you.’  I was impressed by their motto, seeing as most farms this size could careless about pleasing the general public.  More and more we are seeing ‘factory farming’ in the dairy industry with larger and larger quantities of animals.  Fair Oaks has that same dynamic, but takes a different spin on promotion by letting the public see how happy their cows are in both milking and free-stall situations.

I’m not saying that every farm needs to openly allow the public into their facilities, but Fair Oaks is taking a step in the right direction.  They have capitalized on this market and by doing so make large profits with their interact farm program.  I believe that the profit is a big reason to why they continue to run the program, but it is extremely beneficial to the industry for projecting a good image for large dairy farming operations.

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2009 World Dairy Expo Coming Soon

For all of those who do not know the doors to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin open this coming week.  On September 29, 2009 this world class event festivities begin and continue on to the 3rd of October.  Over the 5 days there are various activities, but probably the most acclaimed and well known is the dairy cattle show.  Over the course of the expo I will be following the results from the shows and activities and reporting back to see how everything fairs out.  Good luck to all exhibitors! I only wish I was there to witness it first hand 🙂

The cattle show schedule can be found at the world dairy expo website.

World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI

World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI

Technology Advances Link Humans and Holsteins

Speaking from an evolutionary standpoint humans and holsteins have long been separated for thousands of years, however recent technology advancements in diabetes have proven quite the opposite.  Dairy scientists have found a link between humans who suffer from diabetes and transitioning holstein cattle who acquire a disease called subclinical ketosis.  With this in mind scientists believe that they can aid diary farmers with labour intensive processes with a small hand held device much like the one diabetes patients use.

Although the science behind the technology is quite advanced, it is interesting to note that the meters used by diabetics detect ketones in the blood, which is similar to subclinical ketosis where cows have elevated ketone levels and depleting glucose stores.  German researches have been successful with 2 trials to date that monitor on farm  BHBA (beta-hydroxybutyrate) to detect if the levels exceed the set thresholds.  More research needs to be done to perfect the process for on farm usage, but producers should see signs of a usable product by next year.

Personally I believe that dairy researchers have come up with a wonderful product!  Farmers are continuously in need of fast and precise results to run their operations and this handy device gives them just that.  The meters are all part of a precision management innovation theme that will help dairy producers to incorporate new technologies to run more efficient operations.  As with any new technology there are apprehensions about the product and the results it gives.  Coming from a dairy farm background, I know first hand that farmers are generally skeptical about incorporating these new technologies in their system.  More times than not you can hear a farmer express his opinion as “why change old habits that still work?” The real selling factor that the industry needs to push is that these devices will improve on farm efficiency, ultimately resulting in less time and money spent on sick cows.  Saving money and time is something that every dairy farmer should capitalize on!

A prototype of the new technology avaliable to detect ketosis in holsteins.

A prototype of the new technology available to detect ketosis in holsteins

Ketosis is targeted to transitioning cows (Cows who have just given borth and are entering milking stage of their lactation)

Ketosis is targeted to transitioning cows (Cows who have just given birth and are entering milking stage of their lactation)

Celebrating the Dairy Farmers Hard Work

Gala, lait, melk and nai are just some of the many references that will be used around the world on September 30, 2009 to celebrate World School Milk Day (WSMD).  This year approximately 2621 schools across the globe in 40 different countries will be participating in the 10th annual festivities.  This day was first established in September of 2000 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with the objective of recognizing milk and drawing attention to the many nutritional benefits in student diets.  The idea is to unify the global outlook on milk by educating children of every culture that milk is an essential addition to an everyday diet.

Each school participating in WSMD has their own flair and style of celebrating.   Common activities include free milk for students, curriculum milk related activities, and national figures who participate by endorsing the day.  In today’s society with students lacking an understanding of what milk can provide nutritionally, WSMD has stepped up to the plate.  With a firmer understanding of milk’s contribution of 16 essential nutrients (including calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B12, and zinc etc.) students are more apt to make healthier decisions.  Healthier diet choices will aid students in leading an active and alert lifestyle.  The retributions of this will in fact reflect in student performance in educational testing. The

WSMD program has been extremely successful over the past 10 years through educating students in a fun and friendly way.  It is a wonderful program that not only gets students thinking about healthy diet choices that involve milk and milk products, but it discretely promotes products for dairy farmers.  In today’s society where everyone seems to want a better, faster, more convenient food product, the WSMD brings back the basics to the table and reinforces the importance of cold beautiful milk.  So raise your glass with me in toasting milk, to healthiness, happiness and nutrition! Cheers!

~Remember to celebrate world school milk day on September 30, 2009 by joining in and drinking a large cold glass of milk!

Support your local dairy farmers by participating in WSMD.

Support your local dairy farmers by participating in WSMD.