Fall break was last week. Our original plan was to squeeze in one last Michigan trip to ride ATV’s before winter. Mother Nature had other plans. A cold snap meant the Michigan trip was more suitable for snowmobiling instead of four wheeling. And let’s be honest…we are kind of wimps when it comes to the cold.
So we decided we would just road trip and see where we ended up. We ended up at Fair Oaks Farm in Fair Oak, Indiana. They call themselves a “interactive farm experience”.
Situated on 19,000 acres, Fair Oaks is actually a group of individual farming families who decided to open up their dairy farming operations to the public. They have 38,600 dairy cows and in June of this year added several thousand pigs for a farrow (birth) to finish hog operation.
At the visitor center you pay your admission ($20 for adults, $14 for children 2 and over) and sign up for a time to board one of two buses. One bus tours the dairy cow facility. Another tours the hog operation.

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Jake on the dairy bus tour.

The dairy bus takes you through one of their multiple dairy farms. Visitors are not allowed to have direct contact with any of the animals due to contamination concerns. Cows and hogs are very susceptible to human diseases and sicknesses, especially ones not native to their area.

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This is part of the feed storage area. Feeding 38,600 head of dairy cattle is a huge operation. An average dairy cow consumes 100 pounds of feed per day.

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The corn silage for feed.

And obviously that many cows consuming that much feed produces a lot of poop. Fair Oaks has their own manure digester operation that converts all of the manure produced into usable methane gas. The dairy and hog tour buses, as well as the dairy trucks that haul the milk, all run on this methane gas.

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Part of the manure digester process….separating the sand the cows use for beds from the manure.

The bus actually takes you right through some of the dairy barns. From your seat, you have a front row view.

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And the cows don’t seem to mind, they just carry on with their daily business. 😉

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The weaned baby calves in their houses. They only keep the female calves because they will eventually produce milk. Male baby calves are sold.

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We also got to see the big milk carousel. Cows are milked 3 times a day with this automatic milker. The cows actually love to be milked since full udders aren’t exactly comfortable (a big woop woop from all the breast feeding mom’s in the house right?) so they will make their way to the automatic milker on their own. They step into a divider, where a farm hand cleans their udder and hooks them up to the milker, and ride one rotation. A gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds and as some of the cows came by the observation window we could read their current production for that milking. Some of those cows had produced over 200 pounds of milk just for that milking!

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Some of the ladies on the milking carousel.

After boarding the cow manure powered dairy tour bus back to the visitor center, we wandered over to the birthing barn to see a couple cows give birth.

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Our sweet ride.

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The birthing barn. Outside the barn are two lights. If the red light is on, no births are imminent. A green light means a birth is in progress.

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The nursery next to the birthing barn.

We enjoyed our day trip to Fair Oaks. I would highly recommend. You can find more info by clicking the link.
http://www.fofarms.com

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