Fair Oaks Farms

Not quite beef cows, but cows none the less! I got to visit and tour Fair Oaks Farms in North West Indiana, a 32,000 head dairy. The majority of cows (about 99%) are Holstein Friesian, with a few other breeds making up the rest. The 32,000 cows are not all at one dairy, as Fair Oaks owns a number of dairies and the cows are split up between these. It takes 800 cows to fill 1 milk tanker, so they work on multiples of 800, be it 800, 1600, 2400, or 3200 cows at each of their dairies, so as they are never filling a half or quarter truck, but always a full tanker. They have a big rotary dairy which milks around 72 cows at one time. The cows walk onto the rotary voluntarily, and then once the rotary completes a full revolution, the cows just back out to head back to their pens. It is not very often that they have to be pushed to go onto or come off the rotary. We took a bus tour around their facilities, showing where the cows get milked, their stalls, birthing areas, waste disposal facilities and where they keep their feed to make their own specially formulated ration for the cows.

As it is located between the two major cities of Chicago and Indianapolis, a lot of city people visit the dairy. For that reason, they have heavily focused on educating the consumer to try and dispel some of the misconceptions within the industry. They also have a shop where the public can purchase their milk, cheese, butter and ice-cream.

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