Iowa State University Dairy Farm Gives Public Tours

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AMES, Iowa – Just as donuts are often paired with milk, National Donut Day was paired nicely Friday with free tours at the Iowa State University Dairy Farm.

June is National Dairy Month, and to celebrate, the facility in Ames offers free tours and milk products every year during an annual open house. From 6-11 a.m. Friday, people took motorized tours of the barns, see the milk parlor and milk house, participate in demonstrations of practices used to care for the animals, and try a variety of products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt.

“People don’t realize how productive we are out here with new practices and technology,” said Leo Timms, professor of animal science at ISU. “Our best cow can produce up to 25 gallons of milk a day.”

At the ISU Dairy Farm, 400 milking cows, as well as 100 additional cows, line the barns. These cows are constantly at work – but it’s not the kind of taxing, laboring work you’d imagine; these cows drink water an average of 12 times a day, spending four to six hours eating 12 to 14 meals. The rest of the time is spent laying down, resting – and that’s when Timms says the cow’s body creates milk.

Not surprisingly, Iowa is a powerhouse state in dairy production. With about 210,000 dairy cows in the state, each one provides about $25,000 in economic impact for its community.