May 15, 2012

Corn Board sponsors tours of two Nebraska Dairies

Last week the Nebraska Corn Board sponsored a dairy tour that the Midwest Dairy Association held for B&R Stores’ dairy case managers. The purpose of this tour was to give the managers a firsthand look at how milk ends up on their shelves that they in-turn sell to consumers.

The dairy industry is important to the corn industry as corn and distillers’ grains are fed to dairy cows. Five out of the six Dairy Case managers had never stepped foot on a dairy farm before. The tour allowed them to see the first stages of the milking process and how animals are treated with the best care.

This tour also allowed the managers to learn about some of the issues that the dairy industry is facing, such as the disconnect between the farm and the consumer. The Dairy Case managers were able to ask questions about hormones and the use of antibiotics in dairy animals. Everyone learned that antibiotics are used when an animal is sick and needs a treatment; HOWEVER, everyone learned that the antibiotics NEVER enter the milk supply. The milk that comes from cows getting treated with antibiotics ends up getting used as milk replacer for calves.

The first stop on the tour was at Ken Cast’s family dairy, Kendol Dairy, located near Beaver Crossing. His dairy includes two hundred Jersey milking cows with a few other breeds included in the mix. He currently works with his son who will eventually take over the family dairy. The Cast family milks their herd twice a day and sells most of their milk to DFA (Dairy Farmers of America), who then markets their milk to Robert’s.

Ken said that anytime their family has to use antibiotics to treat a sick animal, they won’t use the milk from that cow to protect the milk supply from getting contaminated with antibiotics. Ken also said that the dairy industry is one of the most regulated food industries in the nation and that inspectors at both the state and federal level will come to his farm to do random checks to be sure his family is providing a safe and nutritious product for consumers.

After touring the Cast’s family dairy, the group traveled to Tuls Dairy farm, which is located south of Rising City. The Tuls family owns three dairies, two in Nebraska and one in Wisconsin. The dairy farm we visited had a total of six thousand milking cows. Some may call the size of this farm a “factory” farm, however, it is still a family-owned farm and the cows receive the same treatment as the cows of smaller dairy farms.

Many of the tour participants were amazed at how large the farm was, but at the same time, how clean everything was and how well the cows were being treated. The tour participants were also impressed with the technology that the farm uses to be more efficient with resources, and to make sure the cows are receiving the best care.

Overall, the tour was a great experience for everyone involved. The Dairy Case managers were able to walk away from the experience with a better understanding of where milk comes from and will now be able to better educate consumers on the dairy products that they purchase. It was also a good way to see how important the dairy industry is to the Nebraska corn industry since corn and distillers grains get mixed into the feed ration that is fed to dairy cows.

To learn more about how the Nebraska Corn Board works with the dairy industry, be sure to click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment