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Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Minor

https://safs.msu.edu/blog/a-day-at-calder-dairy

A Day At Calder Dairy

Calder Dairy was established in 1946 by a man named William G.S. Calder. He has since passed away, but the farm stays within the family. Over time, the farm has expanded and added an agritourism component to the overall operation of the farm.We were able to visit the tour area where they have a variety of animals to see and a dairy store where they sell a mixture of items, with their most well-known product being ice cream. While on the visit, we were taken on a tour and shown the different animals, how to feed a baby cow, and hand-milking a cow while also learning about the history of the farm and its current operations

When first arriving at Calder Dairy, you are welcomed by their large “Calder Dairy” sign alongside a driveway lined with everything dairy cow themed.One of the first things we had a chance to do was check out the various animals they had present alongside the dairy cows themselves. There were donkeys, goats, chickens, horses, sheep, and a sleeping potbelly pig. We were given some food to feed the donkeys, goats, and sheep. For most of us it was easy to see the appeal this component of the farm had for visitors. After feeding and looking at the animals for a while, we moved on to the most exciting part, the cows.

Calder Ha 2

We walked over towards the back where there were multiple barns where the cows are organized by age. There is a section for ages between 8 hours and 2 weeks old. They are placed in individual plastic house like structures to keep them separated from each other. Before the calves are put in this area, they are born in a separate barn. The calves spend the first 8 hours of their life with their mom. Once they hit the 8 hour mark, they are transferred to the individually “housed” area. Then once they are 2 weeks old, the calves are moved to an area that’s right across from the individual shelters. This is where they will stay until they are 2 months old. Here, the calves are no longer separated and are free to move around within the gated area amongst each other. After they are 2 months old, they are moved again, this time into a different barn. They stay in this area until they are 2 years old. At 2 years, the cows get pregnant, and again, are moved to another barn where the future moms are held. Once the cow gives birth, she is given a name and the whole cycle begins all over again with their calf.

Calder Ha 1

We then moved on to the area where the cows give birth and this is where we had the opportunity to milk a cow by hand. A lot of people were excited for this part since most of us had never milked a cow before. We also got to see a newborn calf in the same stall at its mom. We weren’t told the age precisely, but we knew that it was under 8 hours old because of where it was. After everyone milked the cow, we moved into an area where we were able to see the room that the cows are milked along with the technology that does so. We spent a lot of time here learning about the dairy operation on the farm. Calder Dairy has a total of 180 cows that are milked twice a day, everyday at 5:30am and 4pm. Each cow produces about 7.5 gallons of milk/day and in order to do this each cow needs to consume 100 lbs of food and a bathtubs worth of water every single day. They have 3 different breeds of cows which gives them their unique milk mixture. With this milk they make their own ice cream on the farm and sell in their shop. They also send their milk to a butter company to be processed into butter.

There are a number of challenges in the contemporary market for dairy farmers to consistently profit, so having the additional agritourism components available at Calder Dairy is a great aid. Agritourism operations like they have at Calder allow people who otherwise may not have opportunities to see these types of animals or farming operations to do so. Calder Dairy is a wonderful place to visit for any age. Getting to see (and touch!) all the animals firsthand, and learn about the farm at the same time is an experience worth trying out.

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