Farm City Day attracts 800 students
JEFFERSON – “You are our future,” Walt Coussens of the Jefferson Agri Business Club told 800 students when they came to the Kutz Dairy Farm to learn about agriculture at the annual Farm City Day.
“Right now we’re likely looking at someone who could come up with a cure for cancer. For that to happen, we need food to help you grow and stay healthy,” Coussens said.
Coussens reminded them that they cannot go through a day without somehow being impacted by agriculture. Groups were sent on their way with their student guides to learn how to connect the dots between dairy farming and food production.
The Kutz family, including Ron and Pam and their sons Aaron and Allan, hosted the 24th annual event on May 3 in cooperation with the Jefferson County Agri-Business Club and Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom.
The organizations collaborate with FFA students from Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Palmyra-Eagle, Cambridge, Johnson Creek, and Lakeside Lutheran High Schools. FFA students from area chapters actually audition to be presenters at each of 11 stations while other FFA members sere as tour guides and escort the students to each station.
Each student, teacher and chaperone visits 11 stations where they learn about milking cows, calves, cattle housing, veterinary practices, land preservation, crops, ag careers, sheep, beef/swine, “then and now” technology that actually included a working drone, and the pizza station that shows the origins of pizza ingredients.
The organizations also provide lunch for all attending.
For most students, the event helps them get a better idea of the concepts they have already discussed in class. Teachers are provided with materials and information before the tour and each teacher goes home with packets of information to further discuss after the visit.
Students were fascinated with the 1,900 Jerseys, the calves and the young stock that are a part of the Kutz family farm. Ethan Nelson, a fourth grader from Watertown, was taking pictures all along the way.
Ethan said, “I’ve been on a farm before but not one like this. This is amazing.”
Ron Kutz was in the dairy barn with his granddaughter Aubrey to explain how they care for their cows.
Kutz explained why they milk Jerseys rather than the more common Holsteins that most students are accustomed to seeing.
“Milk from our cows is made into cheese so we might as well produce milk that is good for making cheese,” Kutz said.
One of the most popular stations was the calf-care barn where the students were surprised to learn that 2,351 calves were born on the Kutz farm last year and that there are 320 calves newborn to two months on the farm at the present time.
Since Jersey calves are smaller than other breeds, they raise their calves in a climate controlled building that uses an all-in-all-out system.
More than just a dairy
Students were also surprised to find out how little of the earth is suited for growing food.
Margaret Burlingham used an apple to illustrate how much of the earth is covered with water; how much is mountainous and rocky; how much is covered with pavement, concrete and buildings; and how much is left for farming.
One-thirty-second of the earth is actually farm land that is suitable for raising crops and livestock to feed the world’s 7.5 billion people. As that population rapidly grows, Burlington said, it is even more important to protect the land that is left and find ways to make it more productive.
The Kutz farm is an ideal example of sustainable farming practices and students learn about these efforts as well as about the overall importance of agriculture.
While Jerseys are smaller than Holsteins and therefore generate less manure than the larger animals, expansion throughout the years has made the farm a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).
The Kutzes say that the special CAFO permits for nutrient management are not a big deal because they have always worked hard to get the most out of the manure from their cattle in the way of fertilizer for their crops.
They use hoses to distribute the liquid manure from their pit in order to avoid tanker traffic on the roads. They also use a sand separator system that pulls out the sand and washes it with rinse water from the milking parlor.
Their system allows their dairy to be environmental stewards of the farm and its natural resources.