Ames community gets inside look of the ISU Dairy Farm at open house


By Courtney Sowder/Iowa State Daily

Kids had the opportunity to look at and pet a calf at the ISU Dairy Farm open house on Friday, June 5. 

Angelica Lawson

Fun and learning went hand-in-hand or perhaps hoof-in-hoof at the ISU Dairy Farm’s annual open house.

There was not a quiet moment Friday on the dairy’s 887 acres of land. Children could be seen running through the hills and asking about the baby and mommy cows. It was an event for all ages.

The event aims to educate the public about the dairy farm. Staffers said the event is provided to help the community learn about caring for animals and the invaluable research being worked on at the ISU Dairy Farm, and across the country. 

The estimated 1,000 to 1,500 attendees were greeted in the milking parlor by the 2014-15 Iowa Dairy Princess alternate, Rylie Pflughaupt, a 2015 ISU graduate, before being shown a step-by-step breakdown of milking by Celina Young, a junior in agriculture business. 

Event goers had the opportunity to see animals and learn about their daily routines during trolley tours. At the end of the trolley tour, guests were taken to the kids zone, which provided educational booths, activities and dairy snacks. At the final stop, guests could pet a calf, which was the highlight for many of the young open house attendees.

The ISU Dairy Farm advocates for the dairy farmers of Iowa and of the United States. Expert faculty was present to answer questions from the public.

“One of my primary jobs is education … about agriculture, our practices, about the things we do to take care of our animals [and how we] take care of our environment. Those are the things that matter at the end of the day,” said Leo Timms, Morrill professor of animal science.

Researchers at the farm said they are currently placing color-coded radio transmitters on cows to capture data.

Cows wearing blue transmitters are monitored for milk output. This allows staff to compare past numbers and look for early indicators for possible health concerns or stress factors that might impact milk production.

Cows wearing yellow transmitters assist in research about feeding habits — the cows can only eat at a specific stall and their food is measured before and after to know how much they are eating.

This marks the eighth annual open house at the dairy farm. The staff hopes people will learn that the ISU Dairy Farm provides the highest care for their animals and produces quality products. Staffers said the dairy farm is focused on being a sustainable farm and reducing the amount of waste it produces in order to better serve the community now and in the future.