Myself and 6 other awesome Michigan bloggers were asked to participate and learn more about agriculture in Michigan. We went on tours of a dairy farm, dairy processing plant and store to learn from beginning to end about agriculture and how we can shop Michigan and support our local Michigan farms.
Our first stop was visiting Horning Dairy Farm in Manchester, Michigan. The Hornings have been farming since 1877. Earl Horning took us around. He said his grandchildren will be the six generation operating the dairy farm, yes 6th generation! They have a staff of seven, plus his family helps on the farm.
We put on our Bio-Secure booties to make sure we didn’t bring anything into the farm and did not take anything out from the farm.
Earl showed us where they milk their 350+ cows. Milking each cow can take from 3 minutes to 15 minutes. Earl’s crew starts milking at 4 a.m for about 4 hours and again at 4 p.m. Each cow wears a collar with a GPS type of device that syncs up with the machine milking it to tell the Hornings their stats. They are able to track the cow, how much milk was received, how long they were milked. They can determine if the cow didn’t give as much milk as expected to follow up with the cow to milk her again if needed.
On average, the Horning’s cows produce 10 gallons of milk EACH a day.
Before leaving the dairy farm, the Horning’s test the milk to ensure it meets the standards required.
It is all about Cow Care at Hornings Dairy
Horning Dairy Farm works with a Nutrionist to ensure they have the right type of blend of feed for the cows. From having a calf to being a cow who’s been milking for a while, determines the blend of food to help meet their needs.
They also work with a Veterinarian to provide the needed cow care if a cow is sick. Sick cows are identified with bands so the farm hands know their milk is handled differently and not into the milk tank to go to the processing plant.
When the cows aren’t milking, they are relaxing in sand that the Hornings have changed and brought in weekly. It’s a nice fine sand that the cows really seemed to enjoy and want to go to. There is also a large maternity straw bedding area for cows close to giving birth allowing the Hornings to keep a close eye on them.
Pedicures. Ok, they aren’t called pedicures, but someone comes in and trims the cows hooves too.
So much information, it was an honor to have met this wonderful family.
If you ever have the chance to go to a Breakfast on the Farm, I would recommend it. The Hornings have sponsored such an event before but look for new events in the spring to happen. You can get the same experience I did, on a dairy or other type of farm.
This is the first post of a three part series on my Pure Michigan Michigan Ag Council Blogger tour:Pure Michigan – Dairy Farm Tour Pure Michigan – Milk Processing Plant Pure Michigan – Kroger Store Tour