Century Old Farm Opens Barn Doors to Community

October 4, 2015 11:17 AM

SwissLane Dairy Farms of Alto, Mich. will host its 100th anniversary and the family operation has invited consumers to a barn party for a celebration.

The Oesch family shared their experience of hosting farm tours and growing their family farm during a Virtual Farm Tour at World Dairy Expo.

On Oct. 17, SwissLane Dairy Farms has scheduled a day to Celebrate the Centennial! The event will include hayrack rides, a straw maze and of course cake.

This isn't the first time the family farm has opened their barn doors with tours being part  of the a makeup of the operation for nine years.

In 2006, the tours had just 350 people attending. Now, 6,000 people annually visit the farm. Family member Annie Link hosts the tours up to five times per week. Visitors get an idea of the benefit dairy has on nutrition and see first-hand what life on a dairy entails.

Annie had some interesting stories to share like the time a child jumped off a school bus and was excited to see a big dog. That big dog was actually a calf. She’s even had to explain to some consumers that milk only comes from female cattle, not the bulls.

The tours have been promoted primarily by word of mouth, but Annie is active on social media running a farm Facebook page and her personal Twitter account. Annie also participated in the Udder Truth campaign filming a video on the farm this past summer:

Production is still a focus at SwissLane Dairy Farms where a majority of the cow herd is milked through a double 16 parlor and housed in sand bedded free stalls. Here is a look at the numbers for the dairy:

  • Milking 2,150 cows
  • Rolling herd average of 29,156 lb.
  • Somatic cell count of 120,000 cells/mL
  • Protein 3%
  • Fat 3.5%

The Oesch family added a robotic dairy to the operation a few years ago. Currently, eight Lely robots milk 500 cows at a dairy setup in the middle of one of the farm fields. Cows milked in the robots are averaging 3 lb. more per day in milk production than the parlor herd. Culling rates are also 9% lower in the robotic herd.

With 19 family members employed on the farm it truly is a family affair at SwissLane Dairy Farms, but they're happy to let the community see what they're up to.

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