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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The "Garden Spot Of America: The Historic Kreider Farm" Story

The new 100 foot high obseration tower at Kreider Family Farms.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing on the top tier of the Kreider Farms 100-foot observation tower in Manheim, Pennsyl- vania.  There is Lancaster County farmland 360 degrees around me.  Being in the "Garden Spot of America" and viewing truly magnificent agricultural scenery is fantastic!  Lancaster County has some of the most productive non-irrigated farm land in the United States.
View of the chicken houses in the distance.
This tower was recently completed on what was once a concrete silo that stored silage or food for the farm animals that inhabit the Kreider Farm.  It features a spiraling steel staircase winding around the outside of the former silo which has 172 steps; and I experienced every one of them.  On one side of the road, directly in front of me and directly in front of the tower lies the Kreider Family Homestead and the family cemetery plot.
Off in the distance is the farm's water pumping station
which they have erected to supply water for their agricultural
business.  Sitting behind the pumping station are rows of
solar panels that supply the power to run the pumping station.
To my right are the many chicken houses that holds 6 million egg-laying chickens while directly behind me are the barns that hold more than 2,000 cows, a milk-bottling and ice cream plant.  To operate this massive farm takes about 200 employees.  The tour I am taking today of one of Lancaster County's leading farms draws about 10,000 visitors a year.  The farm and company president, Ron Kreider, got the idea for the observation tower after visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  
A panoramic view of the dairy buildings.
He thought it would give visitors to his farm a chance to see the immense size of the farm from a different perspective.  Since agriculture and tourism are two of Pennsylvania's, particularly Lancaster County's, largest economic sectors, combining the two was a great idea.  
This photo comes from Kreider's website and
shows a tour bus going through one of the
dairy barns while the cows eat.
The tour I am on today, during Agriculture Week in Lancaster County, met at the Kreider Farms Visitor's Center on PA Rt. 72 and boarded a tour bus that has taken us from the center to the many areas of the farm.  The buildings housing the millions of egg-laying chickens has been closed to visits for some time due to the Avian flu which struck this area hard not long ago.  
On our way to the farm, we saw a farm along the
road that had this image painted on the barn.
We did get to see the entire dairy process from the maternity barn where the calves are born to the milking barn where an automated circular milking carousel rotates as cows enter the unit, are sprayed with a disinfectant, wiped dry, milking hoses hooked to them and slowly released from the unit after having their milk removed from their utters.  Much of the trip is accomplished while sitting in the tour bus that drives through the different barns while the actual milking machine is viewed from indoor windows as well as exterior viewing.  Follow along with my photos as I give you a sampling as to how the milk that you drink is probably processed in your country.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Click on photos to enlarge them.

An overview of the unit that can hold 64 cows for milking.  The carousel revolves at a slow speed as the cows enter the unit, have their udder sprayed with a disinfectant, a worker wipes the disinfectant off, a worker attaches the automatic milking machine, and the cows exit the unit.  This photo was taken from above the unit as it revolved.
Each cow has an ear tag as well as an implanted computer chip on it.  The implanted chip will signal the number of the cow as it enters the milking machine.
This photo shows the cows in the foreground making their way onto the milking machine while in the rear they have been released and are heading back to the barn to feed once more.  Each cow is milked three times a day.  Just about all the cows are Holstein cows and will give, on average, 93 pounds of milk a day.   When the cows are on the milking carousel, the unit plus the cows weighs about 54 tons.
This readout is next to the cow as she enters the milking machine.  A computer reads the chip embedded in the cow to get this number.  This is cow #810.
The udder is then sprayed.  The unit that sprays can be seen in the bottom mid-right.
This worker is wiping the spray from the udder of the cow.
The next worker attaches the milking unit to the cow.
As soon as the milking machine is attached, the computer readout begins to measure the pounds of milk that the cow yields.
The many products that the Kreider Family Farm produces.  If you live in the north-east of the United States, you may find these in your grocery store.

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