Dairy farmer teaches about milk production with farm tours

A group of people tour the Hastings Dairy in Ohio.
A group of people tour the Hastings Dairy in Ohio. | Photo copyright Farm Bureau Federation
When a fourth-generation farmer in Ohio opened the doors of the family dairy to the public, she did it with a purpose.

Brenda Hastings, who grew up in the dairy farm industry, said she is passionate about educating the public concerning agriculture, and dairy production in particular, so she opened the gates to the dairy five years ago, according to an article on the American Farm Bureau Federation's website. Since that time, the family’s 550- Holstein operation has welcomed tours, from kindergarten field trips to senior tours, to her family farm.

While she’s always enjoyed talking to people about her farm, she now has an outlet to educate the public while trying to correct some serious misconceptions that people have about farming and ranching, the article said. Her idea of offering tours was based in part on her desire to set the record straight and to offset a falling profit margin in the dairy industry.

Tourists at Hastings Dairy get to see the free stall environment the well-cared for cows enjoy. According to Hastings, she is often told by visitors how surprised they are to see the clean and quiet operation. “We clean multiple times a day,” she said in the article, “and the cows are so quiet because all their needs are met.”

Inclusion of antibiotics in milk is also a concern for many in today’s society where an emphasis is often placed on all natural, organic ingredients. Hastings details the processes the farm uses to ensure that none of the milk from their operation contains antibiotics. Although the farm primarily supplies milk for cheese production, they have added a small bottling facility since the onset of the tours so that visitor can purchase half-gallon and pint containers to take home, the article said. The fresh milk is also sold at almost two dozen local stores.

Visitors get a guided tour of the milking parlor, the opportunity to play on a farm-themed outdoor playground, ride pedal tractors and play games like corn hole and ring toss. There is also an opportunity to get close to and pet young calves as well as riding the “Chugga Chugga Moo Train,” a special tractor-pulled ride for the dairy’s youngest visitors, the article said.

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American Farm Bureau Federation

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