How to Visit a Dairy Farm

Three Parts:Planning Your VisitPacking What You NeedMaking the Most of Your Trip

Dairy farms are full of activity from pre-dawn until after the sun goes down. Farmers milk and feed cows, clean barns, sell products and perform other chores to keep their farms running smoothly. Many dairy farms are open to the public for tours. These farms encourage visitors to experience farm life and share the work that dairy farmers do every day. Before planning your trip, use the following tips to learn how to visit a dairy farm.

Part 1
Planning Your Visit

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    Decide on what kind of experience you want. Some dairy farms operate as large-scale factories whereas others are smaller and produce fewer dairy products.[1] Tours offer various activities geared towards both children and adults. Think about your interests. Do you want to see how massive amounts of milk is produced, or are you more interested in petting the animals? Do you want to taste products like milk and ice cream, or are you just looking for a nice day outdoors?
    • If you’re planning a visit for a school group, think about what would be most valuable for the students. If you’ve been studying animals, for example, find a dairy farm that has animals other than cows for the children to interact with. Plan some pre-trip and post-trip lessons that weave the real-life experience into your curriculum.
    • Consider an overnight stay. Some dairy farms offer overnight stays as leisure or educational trips.[2] These trips are longer and more expensive, but may be worth the extra effort depending on your needs.
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    Find a farm. Do some research. A quick internet search yields several dairy farm websites with comprehensive information about what is offered. Many websites include a phone number to call with any questions about scheduling and other logistics. Compare the prices, tour offerings, and available tour dates of different farms in your area.
    • Look into several farms. If one farm doesn’t offer what you want, ask them if they know about any other farms in the area.
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    Schedule your visit ahead of time. Set a date for your tour and call the dairy farm to schedule a visit. Larger farms have headquarters or a main office that you can call. Smaller farms are typically run out of the owners' homes. You may not be able to reach them until after dark and all the chores are completed.
    • Get a head count before you call. The dairy farm will want to know how many people will be visiting. Farms sometimes have different rates depending on the size of your group. Prices also vary by age. Babies are usually free and seniors and children might get a discount. Some farms even offer free tours to active service individuals.[3]
    • The cost of a tour ranges depending on the farm, your area, and what is offered on the tour. A full tour can range from $5 to $10 per person.[4][5] Remember that not all tours are the same. Find out how long the tour will last, what you will see, what extras are included, and what kinds of extra costs you might incur for animal feeding or food tasting.

Part 2
Packing What You Need

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    Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable, casual clothing. Skip the glamorous look-- you don’t want to worry about staying clean while you pet the cows. You may walk through grass, mud, and animal droppings on your tour, so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Rubber boots with hard soles that do not stain easily are best.[6]
    • Dress for the weather. Check the weather before you go. The weather might be quite different depending on how far you are driving from home. Bring a good rain jacket or a sweater if there is a chance of rain.
    • If you are going with a school group, let the students know what the weather will be like on the day of the trip. Remind the students to wear layers if the weather will fluctuate between cool and warm.
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    Bring a packed lunch or other snacks. The dairy farm is a great location to pause for a few moments and enjoy an outdoor meal. Take a break from the tour and enjoy your surroundings. Snack time is a good moment to think of a few questions to ask your tour guide!
    • Some farms offer food for purchase. Ask about the available options when you schedule your tour. Try out fresh ice cream, cheeses, or other prepared dairy products for lunch.
    • Have students to bring a packed lunch. Although there might be snacks offered on the tour, students should still bring a full lunch. Decide if you will allow students to purchase lunch on the farm. If so, remind them to bring enough money for a satisfying lunch.
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    Pack a hat or sunscreen. Remember that you might be outside for a good part of the day. Farms tend to have large open spaces where you will be exposed to direct sunlight. Wear a hat to cover your face and use sunscreen if you are prone to sunburn.[7]
    • Bring extra sunscreen if you are traveling with students. Students may forget to apply sunscreen before leaving home, so it is best to have some on-hand at the farm.
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    Bring insect repellant. Many bugs live in rural areas and farmlands. Pack some form of bug spray or insect repellent to avoid going home with itchy bites. Bug spray is especially helpful if you plan to wear shorts or stay overnight. Apply the repellant to exposed skin before you go on the tour.[8]

Part 3
Making the Most of Your Trip

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    Ask questions about daily life on the dairy farm. Your tour guide will tell you about the schedule on a dairy farm, general tasks that are regularly completed, and other chores that must be done. You may even be able to sample some tasks, such as cleaning a stall or throwing hay to a cow. Listen carefully and think of some fun questions for the tour!
    • If you are traveling with a school group, consider having your students prepare questions before the trip. Preparing questions is a good pre-trip activity that increases student engagement. Once on the farm, the students can ask their questions and evaluate how the farm compared with their expectations.
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    Try milking a cow. Milking cows is an essential part of life on a dairy farm.[9] After the farmer demonstrates how a cow is milked, they may ask for a volunteer. Be ready to participate and try it out. Milking a cow can be difficult to get the hang of at first, but it is a lot of fun. Grip the cow's udder and carefully work your way down the teat until a stream of milk comes out.
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    Sample the products. Many dairy farms sell cheese or milk products on site. Even if they don't, you may have an opportunity to try unpasteurized milk or cheese the family has made from the milk the cows produced.
    • Be aware of any allergies. Avoid dairy products if you have a milk allergy or are lactose intolerant. If you are with children, ask their parents about any dairy sensitivities. Milk allergies can range from mild to fatal, so keep a close eye on children who have reported allergies.[10]
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    Take a hay ride or wagon ride as part of your tour. Often, dairy farm visits include a ride in a vehicle driven by a farmer that allows guests to get in the farm spirit. A hay ride is usually a wagon or trailer with seats provided by bales of straw. Riders sit on the straw bales and are transported to one location from another.

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Categories: Cattle