Do you open your dairy farm to tour groups? Many consumers are very interested in food production. They want to know how cows are treated, where they live, what they eat, how we handle calves, and so on. The best way to share this is to show them how you operate on your farm.
We’ve hosted a few tours at our dairy in the past, but this year we’ve started an agritourism business called Hastings Dairy Tours & Events. We offer Open Farm Days, group tours, school tours, birthday parties, and barn rental for meetings or events. We like it when people visit our dairy so they can see first-hand how our animals are treated and how milk is produced.
When giving a tour, I take people into our milking parlor and the bulk tank room to explain how we preserve milk quality on our dairy and how the milk inspector visits to make certain we’re following the rules. Then we take a trip to the freestall barn so they can see how cows have individual beds with fresh bedding, clean walkways and fans to keep them cool. We look at feed ingredients and talk about the importance of quality feed and fresh water. Then we visit the calves – always a favorite. I explain that we house calves in hutches to ensure their health and safety in the first months of life. I also like to share some U.S. dairy statisticssuch as the number of dairy farms in the nation and in Ohio, the number of cows in the U.S., etc. If it’s a group of adults, I tell them about the business side of dairy farming such as the capital investment necessary to purchase and operate a farm and how we’re paid for our milk.
In addition to providing information about our dairy, we have a farm-themed playground for children and a hayride for visitors. We also offer food and drinks for sale during the days in June, September and October we’re open to the public.