Home 5 Ag Stories ISU Dairy Farm holds open house for National Dairy Month

ISU Dairy Farm holds open house for National Dairy Month

Photo by Riley Smith

Iowa State University (ISU) is celebrating National Dairy Month by holding several educational events at farms across the state. Iowa’s dairy industry is often overlooked, but it is still among the most productive in the nation. Iowa ranks 12th in the nation for total milk production, and eighth for milk production per cow. The state produces over 5 billion pounds of milk a year, from over 200,000 cows. On top of that, the dairy industry provides a $5.6 billion economic impact to Iowa each year, supplying more than 15,500 jobs across the state.

To kick off their dairy month activities, the ISU Dairy Farm opened up to visitors on June 10th from 7AM to noon. People of all ages attended the event to learn about cow comfort, dairy production and sustainability, and milking facilities, and there was even a tram for them to take a guided tour of the farm. The event was led by campus staff and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. One of the faculty members in attendance was Gail Carpenter, the Assistant Professor of Teaching in Dairy Production for ISU. She was also the interim manager of the dairy farm for a few months last year, so I asked her about what it takes to run a dairy operation.

Dairy farming isn’t just all labor, though. Carpenter said there’s a lot of data management and analysis.

With data management, feeding schedules, and other maintenance, dairy farmers work 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, and the ISU Dairy Farm is no different. Carpenter provided a walk-through of a typical day on the farm.

On top of producing high-quality milk, the ISU Dairy Farm also serves as a great educational resource for ISU’s ag students. Carpenter said the farm works closely with the veterinary and animal science departments to provide them with valuable hands-on experience.

Agriculture is a very involved industry- that much is clear. There’s only so much that you can learn from a textbook, so hands-on experience is that much more valuable in this industry. Carpenter talked about how the experience students gain from the dairy farm gives them a huge head start in their career fields.

However, the education doesn’t just stop with the students. With it being National Dairy Month, there’s huge focus on educating the public and getting more people to appreciate and understand where their food comes from. Carpenter said the ISU Extension team will be very active this summer in an effort to increase ag literacy.

Ag advocacy doesn’t stop after dairy month, though. It’s important to keep working to inform others about what the ag industry is like. After all, if we don’t, who will? Carpenter said it’s great to highlight the ag industries in a state that can really do it all.

For more information, visit https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/.