Virtual Farm Tours

WATCH 2017 FARM TOUR VIDEOS

World Dairy Expo Virtual Farm Tours have been bringing the best dairy operations in North America to Madison for more than 15 years. The eight dairies selected this year are no exception, highlighting topics ranging from technology and genetics to strong community ties and cow comfort. These virtual outings include a visual presentation led by the farm’s owner or manager, with time for questions and an open discussion to follow. Tours are presented daily during World Dairy Expo, Tuesday through Saturday, in the Mendota Room 1 of the Exhibition Hall.

Sponsors of the 2018 Virtual Farm Tours include: American Jersey Cattle Association, Compeer Financial, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Mycogen Seeds, NC Dairy Advantage, Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC, QLF and Waikato Milking Systems. Below is the schedule of tours this year. 

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2

2 pm

Hosted by: MasCow, Moscow, Kan.

Highlights: 3,500 milking/Youth Training

Sponsored by: Kansas Department of Agriculture

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3

Noon

Hosted by: Blue Star Dairy Farms, DeForest, Wis.

Highlights: 2,600 milking/Family-run, Multi-Site Farm

Sponsored by: Compeer Financial

2 pm

Hosted by: VanderMade Dairy and FreshMade Dairy, Sherwood, Ohio

Highlights: 2,180 milking/Cow Comfort and Longevity

Sponsored by: Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4

Noon

Hosted by: Young's Jersey Dairy Inc., Yellow Springs, Ohio

Highlights: 35 milking/Value-Added Products and Agri-Tourism

Sponsored by: American Jersey Cattle Association

2 pm

Hosted by: Selz-Pralle Dairy, Humbird, Wis.

Highlights: 450 milking/Genetics and Production

Sponsored by: Mycogen Seeds

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5

Noon

Hosted by: Rocky Creed Dairy, Olin, N.C.

Highlights: 1,240 milking/Milk Quality

Sponsored by: NC Dairy Advantage

2 pm

Hosted by: McCarty Family Farms, LLC, Colby, Kan.

Highlights: 12,000 milking/Non-GMO Ration

Sponsored by: QLF

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6

Noon
Waikato

Hosted by: Benthem Brothers Inc., McBain, Mich.

Highlights: 2,700 milking/Rotary Parlor

Sponsored by: Waikato Milking Systems

 


Tuesday, October 3, 2 p.m.

Hosted by: MasCow, Moscow, Kan.
Highlights: 3,500 milking/Youth Training
Sponsored by: Kansas Department of Agriculture

MasCowMasCow Dairy in Moscow, Kansas, is home to 3,500 Holsteins that are milked twice a day in a double-35 parallel parlor. The herd averages 24,000 pounds of milk on a total mixed ration and utilizes a custom breeding index that emphasizes a smaller-framed, efficient cow with longevity in the herd. MasCow, a part of the Ag Oasis family of dairies, was built in 2006 on 160 acres of land. The team at MasCow is a two-family partnership that each has a rich history in the dairy business. Outsourcing both heifer raising and crop production, MasCow relies on strong relationships with neighbors and others in the dairy industry to ensure the success of their farm.

Establishing relationships with the next generation of farm labor is a driving force behind the dairy’s newest initiative, Dairy U. Working with Kansas State University to develop and launch Dairy U, MasCow brought its first group of high school students to the dairy for the three-day immersion program this summer. The program is designed to highlight different segments of the dairy industry and spark career interest in these young students, helping to alleviate foreseen workforce shortages in future years. In addition to the new Dairy U program, MasCow supports local 4-H members, sports teams and charities and welcomes additional high school and college students to the farm to expose them to the dairy industry.

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Wednesday, October 3, Noon

Hosted by: Blue Star Dairy Farms, DeForest, Wis. 
Highlights: 2,600 milking/Family-Run, Multi-Site Farm
Sponsored by: Compeer Financial                                                                                 

Blue StarBeginning in Middleton, Wisconsin, Blue Star Dairy Farms currently milks 2,600 cows on three sites throughout south-central Wisconsin. Utilizing various sizes of Germania Herringbone style parlors at each site, the Middleton location milks 600 cows, a second site in DeForest milks 800 cows and milking 1,200 cows, the largest of the farms is located in Arlington. These dairies have a combined daily production average of 90 pounds of milk per cow and a somatic cell count of 130,000. The Middleton and DeForest farms raise their own replacement heifers in naturally-ventilated barns until they are moved to open-front bedding pack barns at two-to-three months of age. Heifers are later moved to a free stall barn until they enter the milking herd. Meanwhile, dry cows from the Arlington location are housed in DeForest. After calving, these cows return to Arlington while the heifers are raised with the DeForest young stock.

Blue Star Dairy Farms also operates 4,500 acres of land and purchases feed from neighbors on an additional 1,500 acres. This group of farms is owned and managed by a family partnership of brothers, Craig and Brian, with their wives Sherri and Rhonda, respectively, and their uncle Art and his wife Lori.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2 p.m.

Hosted by: VanderMade Dairy and FreshMade Dairy, Sherwood, Ohio
Highlights: 2,180 milking/Cow Comfort and Longevity
Sponsored by: Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC

VanderMadeSince immigrating from The Netherlands at age 18, Lambert VanderMade has farmed in Sherwood, Ohio, at VanderMade Dairy. In 2014, a second farm site was added to the operation, FreshMade Dairy, allowing the family – Lambert, his wife, Tina, and parents, Bert and Corrie –  to expand the herd to 2,100 cows. The cattle at both sites are fed a total mixed ration including corn silage, haylage and snaplage grown on 1,950 acres, in addition to Purina products. FreshMade Dairy was constructed with cow comfort as a priority, specifically for larger, mature cows. First and second lactation cows are housed at VanderMade Dairy and have a rolling herd average of 28,500 pounds of milk, while FreshMade Dairy houses cows from four years of age and up, some reaching 12 years old. This group of mature cows has a rolling herd average of 34,000 pounds of milk. The older cows have a more spacious environment created for their comfort, health and longevity. The facility is automated; alleyway cleaning takes place 5 times a day, ventilation is controlled by a weather station running everything from fans to curtains, and feed is pushed up by a robot.

Not only are cows very important to Lambert, but people are, too, and he values their job satisfaction and input to his decisions. Employee profiles are often featured in the quarterly newsletters created for the community. Always striving to be a good neighbor, Lambert and his team are very connected and involved with their community as well.

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Thursday, October 4, Noon

Hosted by: Young's Jersey Dairy Inc., Yellow Springs, Ohio
Highlights: 35 milking/Value-Added Products and Agri-Tourism
Sponsored by: American Jersey Cattle Association

YoungsFor 149 years, Young’s Jersey Dairy, Inc. in Yellow Springs, Ohio has been owned and managed by the Young family. Rather than growing in cow numbers to accommodate more family members on the farm, the Young family chose to diversify. In 1958, they began selling milk straight to consumers, and two years later, a small store was built to better suit their needs. Building again a decade later, Young’s introduced the first part of the current Dairy Store, where patrons could buy a variety of items from the on-farm bakery or ice cream shop that had already been added. After growing the Dairy Store again, Udders & Putters, an 18-hole farm-theme miniature golf course, was opened in 1993 followed by a driving range and a nine-position batting cage. In 2009, Young’s Jersey Dairy began making Farmstead Cheese with the milk from the herd’s 35 Jerseys and now sells it alongside other products in its full-service restaurant.

Today, the farm hosts 1.3 million customers annually, churns 80,000 gallons of ice cream, produces 50,000 pounds of farmstead cheeses and employees 320 people, including fifteen members of the Young family. The Youngs use their strong standing in the community to also host agricultural education tours and community events, from Easter egg hunts, to charity bike rides, vintage truck shows and more. The Jerseys that call Young’s Jersey Dairy home are all registered and remain the focal point of the family business. 

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Thursday, October 4, 2 p.m.

Hosted by: Selz-Pralle Dairy, Humbird, Wis. 
Highlights: 450 milking/Genetics and Production
Sponsored by: Mycogen Seeds 

Selz-Pralle Dairy in Humbird, Wisconsin is home to 450 Registered Holstein cows and the current world-record holder for milk production. Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918 produced 78,170 pounds of milk in 365 days. Owned by Scott Pralle & Pam Selz-Pralle, the dairy maintains a 30,433-lb. rolling herd average with cows averaging more than seven pounds combined fat and protein daily. Attention to detail and cow comfort has netted Selz-Pralle numerous Holstein USA National Elite Cow Awards. They also manage several high-genomic cows for Leaninghouse Holsteins, New Mexico, whose many active A.I. sons include House, Big Bubba, Clete, and Fabio. As early adopters of new technology, this herd was one of the first to begin using activity and rumination technology, shredlage processing for brown midrib (BMR) corn silage, and incorporating Berga (Palm) Fat into their ration.

Scott and Pam’s commitment to agriculture extends to a variety of key leadership positions in state and national organizations, including the Wisconsin Holstein Association, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, AgSource, Cooperative Resources International and CommonGround.

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Friday, October 5, Noon

Hosted by: Rocky Creek Dairy, Olin, N.C.
Highlights: 1,240 milking/Milk Quality
Sponsored by: NC Dairy Advantage

Rocky CreekThe Shelton family moved to Olin, North Carolina in 1992 and started Rocky Creek Dairy with 400 cows and 450 acres of land. Since then, Ben Shelton, his wife Mimi and his son Paul, who own the dairy together, have expanded the farm to 1,400 cows and 1,320 heifers on 2,200 acres. Pre-weaned calves are cared for in group housing with automatic feeders before transitioning to pasture, followed by free stall housing at eleven months. Cows are milked three times a day in a double 16-parallel parlor and are housed in sand-bedded free stalls. The milking herd maintains a rolling herd average of 31,200 pounds of milk with 70,000 SCC. This has led the dairy to receive Don Wesen Milk Quality Awards and the 2015 Marvin Senger Distinguished Dairy Farmer Award. Rocky Creek was also the first dairy in North Carolina to be certified by the Secure Milk Supply Plan, a voluntary biosecurity initiative. Reaching into the community, the farm hosts school groups, college groups, extension programs and other North Carolina dairy industry and county community events. Ben, a practicing veterinarian, also owns Rocky Creek Veterinary Services which is located at the dairy and primarily treats cattle. He also serves on the North Carolina Board of Agriculture, is Vice-President of Cobblestone Milk Cooperative and a former board member of North Carolina Dairy Producers Association and NC Dairy Advantage.

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Friday, October 5, 2 p.m.

Hosted by: McCarty Family Farms, LLC, Colby, Kan.
Highlights: 12,000 milking/Non-GMO Ration
Sponsored by: QLF

McCartyMcCarty Family Farms, LLC began as one dairy farm in Rexford, Kansas in 2000. Since that time, the McCarty Family of Tom and Judy McCarty and their four sons Mike, Clay, David and Ken have grown the business to include five sites: three in Kansas, one in Nebraska and another in Ohio. In total, the family is milking 12,000 cows in parallel and rotary parlors. In 2011, the family built a processing center on the original farm site in Rexford, Kansas. The following year, they began sending their processed milk to Dannon. This partnership allows the McCartys to directly supply Dannon and has given them added stability during the changing dairy markets. Two years ago, McCarty Family Farms began the transition to a non-GMO ration for their herd and have since received accreditations from Non GMO Project and Where Food Comes From. The choice to convert to this type of system has required the family to have stronger relationships with their growers and suppliers.

McCarty Family Farms has been recognized as an Innovative Dairy Farm of the Year, US Center of Innovation on Farm Award Winner and a Sustainability Award winner. Their sustainability awards have recognized the family’s ability to reduce trucks on the road by 75% due to the on-farm processing abilities while also reducing their dependency on water through reclaiming 39,000 gallons of fresh water daily. 

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Saturday, October 6, Noon.

Hosted by: Benthem Brothers Inc., McBain, Mich.
Highlights: 2,700 milking/Rotary Parlor
Sponsored by: Waikato Milking Systems

In 1981, brothers Doug and Bruce Benthem began milking cows in a stanchion barn in McBain, Michigan. Three expansions later, the brothers are now milking 2,400 cows in a 60-cow rotary parlor at Benthem Brothers, Inc. in partnership with Doug’s son, Jason and Bruce’s son, Ryan. The rotary system the Benthems installed features the latest Centrus composite platform and is only the third parlor of its kind in the United States, manufactured by Waikato Milking Systems whose U.S. office is in Verona, Wisconsin. Milking three times each day, the farm has a rolling herd average of 29,096 pounds of milk with a somatic cell count of 90,000, earning the Benthems a Michigan Milk Producers Association Gold Quality Milk award in 2017. Benthem Brothers, Inc. was a finalist for the Consumers Energy Project of the Year in 2017 and has verified their farmstead, 3,000 acres and livestock production through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. Other members of the Benthem family involved with the dairy include Doug and Bruce’s brother, Mark, Doug’s son, Kyle, Bruce’s son, Andy, and Jason’s wife, Shari.

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