Family Day at the Dairy Farm is Oct. 25

Family Day at the Dairy Farm in 2013

A father and son enjoy petting a dairy cow during Family Day at the Dairy Farm in 2013. The event is now in its third year. (Photo by Tyler L. Jones)

University of Florida supporters have something new to look forward to this fall – the return of Family Day at the Dairy Farm, a popular open house held at the UF dairy farm in Hague and presented by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences with support from Florida Dairy Farmers and UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

In past years, the event has been held in March; this year, persistent rain forced organizers to postpone it until drier weather arrived, said Jerry Wasdin, coordinator of the dairy farm’s research programs and services.

“We’re optimistic about the new date and we’re eager to give North Florida residents a look at a real, working dairy farm,” Wasdin said. “Everything you see at Family Day at the Dairy Farm is similar to activities at commercial dairy operations throughout Florida.”

The event is now set to take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, and is open to the public. Directions are available at The event is subject to weather conditions; check the website the week of Oct. 20 for updates.

Family Day at the Dairy Farm includes opportunities to see cows milked, tour barn facilities, examine cattle feed, pet calves, sample dairy products, make butter, take a hayride, climb onto a tractor and learn how UF/IFAS dairy research and Extension help the state’s dairy farmers produce better milk at lower cost and keep their herds comfortable and healthy.

Members of the UF veterinary college’s Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine Service will be on hand manning two stations, along with D.V.M. students who are members of the food animal club. A hands-on demonstration of a physical examination of cows as part of the routine health care program on the dairy will be provided.

Opened in 1949, the UF dairy farm sits on 850 acres and is home to about 500 Holstein cows, which are milked twice daily.

“We have numerous research studies going on at the farm, to find ways of improving things like dairy cow nutrition, health care and comfort,” Wasdin said. “Our findings are communicated to Florida dairy farmers through UF/IFAS Extension programs, to improve the state’s dairy industry.”

Florida is home to about 130 dairy farms and more than 122,000 cows, producing 272 million gallons of milk each year. In terms of the amount of milk it produces, the Sunshine State ranks 19th nationally.

Students from UF animal sciences and veterinary programs work at the farm as part of their training. Many of the current dairy students and faculty members are presenters at the event, educating visitors at more than 20 displays around the farm.

“Everyone who works at the farm is very proud of their efforts,” Wasdin said. “It’s a big commitment and we enjoy educating the public about the hard work that goes into producing food for the nation.”

Visitors should wear closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and hats. To protect herd health, pets are not allowed at the event, he said. Restroom facilities and complimentary bottled water will be available on-site.

Cameras are welcome, and visitors can post their Family Day at the Dairy Farm photos on Twitter using the hashtag #UFDAIRYDAY.

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