Missouri Dairy Business Update
MU Foremost Dairy - August Update
By John Denbigh, Manager - MU Foremost Dairy Center
With State Fair activities fresh in our minds and the completion of the first week of the new school year behind us, we are reminded of the importance of educating not only our young adults but also the general public about the agriculture industry. More and more families are raised distant from the industry that provides the food they eat and the many resources agriculture provides in their daily lives. We can all contribute something to educating others and maybe we can learn something new along the way as well.
At the Foremost Dairy Center, we have accepted the challenge of trying to educate young and old about the dairy industry. We accomplish this by offering farm tours to schools and other interested parties. Annually we host about 2,500 visitors for our “walk around the farm” tour.
Over the years we have identified several areas of the farm that peak visitor’s interest. Some of these are obvious. Who doesn't want to pet a baby calf? It’s a huge attraction for all. But, as the calf suckles on their finger (that is now covered in saliva), we can relate that to how a milking machine works. Hand milking a cow is always exciting. Squeeze….now let go…. Squeeze …now let go… is the chant heard around the chute holding a very cooperative cow (usually Margie an 85 pt daughter of Model).
After our stop to Margie’s station, the visitors go to the free stall barn housing 160 head of Holstein and Guernsey cows. As we line the kids up behind the POP-UP flush valve…they are curious as to what will happen next. As we release the lever and the lid POPS UP, water shoots backwards before finding the natural flow through the free stall barn. This rush of water sends kids in all directions. Lesson learned by all, recycled water stinks!!
Next stop commodity barn. Can anyone make a 20 ton pile of cow feed interesting? Well the kids see it as a mountain of fun to climb! Word to the wise…it takes about 30 minutes to find a missing flip flop in the soy hulls! At the completion our tour (and a visit to the hand sanitizing station) we offer the visitors a cup of Tiger Stripe ice-cream.
Many ask if there is a fee for the tour. At this time the answer is NO. We ask instead that each child brings a canned good as an “admission fee”. We then donate that to the local Food Bank as part of our community service. Last year we collected almost a ton of canned goods.
So in the future, if you have an opportunity to educate someone, take advantage of it. Keep a few things in mind….take a walk, learn something, have fun and treat yourself to some ice-cream…we all deserve it.