MSU Food and Nutrition Club Tours Green Meadows Dairy Farm
On a chilly Saturday in March, the Michigan State University (MSU) Food and Nutrition Club ventured out to Green Meadows Farm to learn first-hand “where milk comes from,” along with the role dairy farmers play in sustainability. Dr. Neuder, a large animal veterinarian at Green Meadows and MSU professor, along with Kristy Kleinen, from KK Dairy Farm, led the students on the tour, including key parts of the farm. The first stop was the milking parlor, where the students learned how the cows not only enjoy being milked, but how they are monitored three times a day for good health. During every milking, trained employees give each cow individual attention to ensure they are healthy and comfortable.
The students also visited the hospital and gave well wishes to the pregnant cows. Kristy and Dr. Neuder led a discussion on cow care, with Kristy sharing what techniques they use on their smaller farm, and how, no matter the size, all dairy farmers care for their animals. Then it was off to the calving barn where the students greeted two newborns and a “pet” Brown Swiss calf, who loved the visitors!
Sustainability was the topic of conversation as the students toured the manure processing and methane digesters. As nutrition students, they all were aware that the high fiber diet cows enjoy is a huge producer of methane! The digesters turn that gas into renewable energy, providing electricity for the farm.
At the free stall barn, Dr. Neuder discussed cow nutrition. The students agreed that, like humans, cows need protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals for good health. Dr. Neuder talked about the various diets designed by animal nutritionists that are specific to the cows’ needs. .
After touring Green Meadows, the students visited Lansing Food Bank where Kim Harkness, director, shared how the food banking system operates and the types of clients they serve. She reiterated how important donations are to the program and how families are especially vulnerable in the summer when the kids do not get school meals. The students visited the storage facilities and saw how low their inventory is currently. Kim pointed out the milk from the Kroger/UDIM milk drive ready to go out to local pantries.
Overall, the tour highlighted the journey of milk from local farms here in Michigan, and the many steps in place to ensure milk arrives at the grocery store safe and fresh. The nine essential nutrients in milk make it a nutrient-rich food, and an important part of a healthy diet. As the No. 1 requested item at many food banks, it’s also in demand among those struggling to put food on the table. Visit the Great American Milk Drive to learn how you can help Michigan families in need today.