Adam Bates loves being a dairy farmer. “There’s nothing else I want to do,” says Bates, who works at Stauffer Farms in North Lawrence, New York. It’s a passion for dairy farming that most students never see or hear about, especially directly from a dairy farmer.
With children missing out on field trips and in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, American Dairy North East is bringing field trips to students – wherever their classrooms may be – virtually! Visit Bates and other dairy farmers, and get to ask them questions, as we go on a live virtual farm tour of Talview Dairy in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Mulligan Farm in Avon, New York, and Stauffer Farms.
Bates is excited to welcome virtual visitors to Stauffer’s, where he manages the feedings for 3,800 milking cows, mostly Holsteins. He knows the virtual tour is an opportunity to simultaneously share the farming experience with lots of students and give them a personal connection to agriculture.
On the tour, students will see lots of animals and visit the milking parlor with all its technology, where the cows are milked – the milking process itself takes 5 minutes, three times a day. They’ll also see employees who help care for the animals. “We have an army of people to get the job done,” says Bates. “And I don’t think people understand that there’s that much human-to-cow interaction and that it’s a positive and beneficial experience for both – it’s hard to describe because it’s an experience.”
Bates explains that some of the human interactions occur as cows are transitioning between their pens and the milking parlor. Stauffer’s has set up their farm specifically with unique sorting gates to more efficiently move cows that may need extra attention. These cows can be automatically sorted off from others in the herd without disruption. It ensures cows have the “least stressful day they can possibly have every single day.”
Along the tour, students will see cows in various stages, from how young animals are raised from two months old to just before giving birth to a calf. They’ll venture to the maternity ward and maybe witness a calf being born.
A visit to the farm’s new high-tech, housing facility will show students how the barn is specifically designed with cow comfort in mind. The barn is equipped with deep-bedded sand stalls, the equivalent to lying on a beach, and innovative tunnel ventilation that Bates says keeps cows cool with a constant breeze. “We keep one end of the barn opened. The other end of the barn is closed and set up with 20 to 30 fans blowing through to the opposite end.” There’s also plenty of water to drink and cows have fresh food that gets pushed to them by a feed pusher to make sure they always have feed anytime they want to eat. Think of the facility as their free space “for the cow to just be herself, relax, and do whatever she wants."
What may be most surprising for students to learn from Bates is that, like him, you don’t have to grow up on a dairy farm to be a farmer. Bates is a first-generation dairy farmer at Stauffer’s; he fell in love with dairy farming as a youngster while spending time at his grandparents’ and uncle’s dairy in Schoharie County.
“I rode in the tractor with my grandfather a lot. So that was definitely part of it. And that was from when I was teeny tiny until we both couldn't fit in the same tractor anymore,” says Bates. He liked the time with his family and being able to learn hands-on at the farm. “Everyone else I knew played video games, and I got to ride tractors and do all sorts of different cool stuff and be responsible.” And he picked up quite a few skills along the way.
“You get to learn so many different things – math, science, technology, business, and the list keeps going – because on a dairy farm, you have to be able to do so many different things and you understand why those subjects are important because you see it applied to real situations,” says Bates.
Learn more amazing things during a live Virtual Farm Tour on our dairy farms. We offer different tours for different ages from preschool through high school. Sign up today and reserve your spot!
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.