Taste of farming life

02:40, Nov 23 2013
Sean Tonner
MEET THE HERD: Sean Tonner, 9 and sister, Frances, 7, attend the Lincoln University Dairy Farm open day with their mum, Simone Pearson.

Townsfolk were given a taste of farming life at a Farm Open Day at the Lincoln University's dairy farm today.

The university's demonstration farm had an open day run by Federated Farmers in 2010 and the South Island Dairy Development Centre managers who run the property on behalf of the university have decided to make it an annual event.

Visitors were able to find out how grass becomes milk then gets to the supermarket, and could see cows being milked.

Shifa Ahmed
TRYING IT OUT: Shifa Ahmed, 9, trys her milking technique with help from mum Husna at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm open day.

Centre executive director Ron Pellow said farm managers wanted to continue the event after 2010, until earthquakes disrupted their plans.

"We are keen to do the event again. This will give all the consumers of milk products the opportunity to ask all the questions about where milk comes from and understand a bit more about the journey of milk from sunshine through pastures to cows and into their cups and on plates."

Pellow said there appeared to be a wider understanding of dairy farming, but perhaps not a detailed understanding and people could learn more during the farm visit.


"Farms are more removed from our everyday lives and mum and dad might have had a close relative on the farm, but that's further removed now because of food-and-safety requirements and busier lives." Milking of the cows will be carried out from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, with the open day starting an hour earlier.

Pellow said the greatest surprise city people might get from visiting the farm would be learning that cows need to calve yearly to produce milk. This was why calving was so important to the dairying system.

"I hope people will come out of this more enthused about the value of milk products to their own lives and the importance of local production to their own wellbeing. It's an opportunity for people to see what animal welfare is like on a commercial dairy farm. We think cows are well looked after and people can come and see for themselves."

Another surprise is that cows continue to grow teeth during their lifetime to keep up with the large intake of grass and other feed to produce milk.

Lincoln University vice-chancellor Andy West said Christchurch people would hopefully come away from the visit with a deeper connection between consuming products such as milk cheese and yoghurt and knowing about the food being created on local farms.

About 600 visitors attended the last open day and between 2500 to 3000 farmers and industry people visit the farm each year.

Cows produce 4500 to 10,000 litres of milk or 400 to 700 kilograms of milksolids a year.

Cows typically eat 20 kilograms of dry matter a day. That's about 130kg of standing grass a day and one quarter of its body weight.

They have a large rumen to consume so much grass.

About four cows are run to the hectare at the Lincoln farm. This varies from two to five cows nationally.

The Press