Virtual Farm Tours and Real Farm Tours

October 3, 2013 01:34 PM
Virtual Farm Tours and Real Farm Tours

Larson Acres and Cinnamon Ridge Dairy share with the dairy world what they are sharing with the rest of the world.

Visiting farms is often times the best way to make management decisions that will help improve a dairy farmer’s bottom line, but getting onto them while at World Dairy Expo can be a bit tricky.

uckily with the advent of new technology, producers from across the globe were able to learn and see firsthand what dairies in Idaho, Iowa, New York, South Dakota and Wisconsin are doing on their operations through the Virtual Farm Tours.

Two of those dairies are involved in tours that put the reality into virtual reality.

Both Larson Acres in Evansville, Wis., and Cinnamon Ridge Dairy in Donahue, Iowa, have opened up their farm gates to school children, international groups and even other farmers. This has helped inform the public about where their food comes from, while also assisting dairy farmers who might be looking at making some changes on the farm.

John Maxwell
John Maxwell talks with attendees of the Virtual Farm Tour about Cinnamon Ridge Dairy.

Larson Acres
Sandy Larson spoke on Wednesday about her family’s operation where she is the fifth generation to work on the farm.

The Larson family is hosting 25 tours during the week of World Dairy Expo, but Sandy said that every week of the year there is a tour that is stopping by the farm.

Some of the sights that people will see at Larson Acres include: 2,900 cows, a cross-ventilated barn, a conventional free-stall barn, cool cell technology, RFID tags, GPS field mapping and autosteering technology on tractors.

Besides having the tours, Sandy also lets people know what is going on at the farm through social media.

"We talk about our cows, what we do for the environment and our community," said Sandy about what she shares on the Internet.

She operates a Facebook page that has 1,800 "Likes" and a Pinterest that she shares recipes on.
Sandy believes that using the social media sites is important. "I have to do that. I have to have an open door."

Cinnamon Ridge Dairy
Thursday at World Dairy Expo saw John Maxwell of Cinnamon Ridge Dairy letting the crowd see the ins and outs of his family farm that has been in operation for more than 100 years.

The Iowa dairy has been hosting tours for school children since the early 1990s and in just this past year more than 3,000 people from across the world stopped by the farm.

Cinnamon Ridge is home to a wean-to-finish pig operation, as well as beef cattle, goats and chickens. The main draw remains the dairy where guests can see 220 Jersey cows being milked by multiple Lely Astronaut robotic milkers.

These robots have changed how the dairy operates. Sort gates have made pulling cattle out for vaccinations, pregnancy checks or hoof trimming easier, while also reducing the amount of labor.
He has been happy with the results that have come with robotic milking and he has opened up the milking room with glass viewing areas to let people see the milkers in action. Groups can also rent out the second floor of the Maxwell’s barn where guests can eat a catered meal and watch the cows walk throughout the free stall barn.

Visit here for more information about Cinnamon Ridge Dairy. To see what’s going on at Larson Acres, go here.  

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