Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5 Ways Farmers Care for their Animals

By Kimmi Devaney of Winners Drink Milk

The dairy industry is near and dear to my heart, so I know firsthand the dedication, passion and commitment to excellence that farmers have when it comes to farming and their animals. After all, it’s their livelihood. Not to mention the right thing to do. I hope many of you had an opportunity to meet a farmer or two as you strolled through the aisles of the barns at the Indiana State Fair. You won’t find better people than farmers. 

Have you ever wondered how farmers care for their animals?

Nutrition. Farmers work with animal nutritionists to formulate diets based on the animals’ nutritional needs. There is no one-size-fits-all ration and it changes depending on age, life stage (stage of lactation, etc.), and other factors. Nutrition is one of the most important factors influencing milk production, so this is an important area.

Medical Care. Veterinarians care for animals much like how doctors care for people. They provide check-ups, vaccinations and treat animals when they are sick.

Animal Comfort. Happy animals are productive animals. California is on to something when they talk about happy cows. Happy, comfortable cows produce more milk. And milk equals money. Therefore, it is very important to provide safe and comfortable living conditions for cows and all animals. On our dairy, we had sprinklers over the feed alleys to cool cows off (and encourage them to eat more feed), large fans in the free stalls to make their naps more comfortable (cows spend a considerable amount of time lying down, so it is important that they are as comfortable as possible!), and fans in the holding pen to cool cows off as they waited their turn to be milked. Some farmers use sand bedding and rubber matting to increase cow comfort. The take away message here: animal comfort is very important and farmers recognize this.

Housing. Dairy cows are generally housed according to age. This makes it easier to provide the best care for each group, as they all have different needs. A second-lactation fresh cow (a cow that just gave birth) has different needs than a growing 10-month-old heifer (female dairy animal who has not had a calf). Dairy farmers separate cows and calves to provide the best individual care for each. Calves receive colostrum (the first milk after a cow calves) as soon as possible to jump start their immune systems, and then receive milk for about two months. In the meantime, they are slowly transitioned off of milk and onto hay and grain (called the weaning process). At the same time, the milk cows are fed high-energy diets to provide for their lactation requirements. Milk production requires a lot of energy!

Employees. Whether farm employees are family members or not, they care for the animals like they are their own. Working toward a common goal—whether that be high milk production, excellent milk quality, etc.—always has a way of bringing people together. Visiting with my favorite cows always made the work day a lot better. And of course, who can be upset when you are surrounded by adorable calves?

Take Home Message: Farmers depend on their animals for their livelihoods and they provide the best care for them as possible.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Indiana Pork Farmers Present Rib America Festival

Indiana pork farmers are proud to host one of the most popular outdoor events in Indianapolis – the Rib America Festival!  Indy’s original music and BBQ festival is scheduled for this weekend, September 2-5, at White River State Park. 

Who’s playing you ask?  None other than the Doobie Brothers, KC & the Sunshine Band, REO Speedwagon and many more!  Plus, you’ll get to try great BBQ ribs from some of the best grillers in the business.

So come on down to Indianapolis and celebrate the end of summer (and the three day weekend) with Indiana’s pork farmers!

Admission into the 16th Annual Rib America Festival is FREE before 5:00 PM on Friday, and 2:00 PM on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

$7.00 General Admission (which includes the concerts) will be collected at all entrance gates after 5:00 PM on Friday and after 2:00 PM Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

To celebrate this event, Indiana Pork is giving away an 8 pack of tickets and bonus food coupons!

Enter on the widget below

Friday, August 26, 2011

Keeping the Ladies Cool

By Kimmi Devaney of Winners Drink Milk

Summer is in full swing here in Indiana. For many of you that may mean a trip to the beach to cool off. While cows can’t escape to the beach, dairy farmers ensure they stay as comfortable as possible. Dairy cows are most comfortable when the temperature is between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so how do they stay cool in the hot and humid weather we have been having lately?

Many dairies install large fans in their barns to increase ventilation. At the dairy I worked at, we had sprinklers over the feed lanes to cool cows off and encourage them to eat more feed. Increased feed consumption means higher milk production.

Barn construction is also an important part of cow comfort. When the ridge of the barn is open it allows heat to escape, thus keeping the barn cooler. Cross ventilated barns have also increased in popularity in recent years and are amazing from a cow comfort perspective.  Cross ventilated barns use a row of fans and evaporative pads to cool the air as it moves throughout the barn. It’s like air conditioning for the cows. In addition, some dairy farmers use sand bedding in their barns. So it’s like a day at the beach for the cows every day!
Water consumption may be one of the most important aspects of keeping cows cool. Just like humans, cows can get dehydrated. When this happens, milk production decreases.  Therefore, dairy farmers ensure that cows have access to clean, fresh water 24 hours a day. Cows can drink 40-50 gallons of water or more each day. That’s a bathtub full of water!
Why is it so important to keep cows cool?
Comfortable cows produce more milk, and milk production decreases during hotter weather. This means the farmer has less milk to sell. Not good. Keeping cows cool can help maintain—or at least minimize the milk lost due to high temperatures—milk production during these hot summer months.
Now that you’ve learned about a few of the ways dairy farmers keep their cows cool during the summer, make sure that you stay hydrated and cool—the summer’s not over yet! Milk—regardless of flavor—is the perfect beverage to help you rehydrate. Did you know that milk is 87% water by volume? The combination of protein and carbohydrates in the remaining 13% make milk a nutrition powerhouse. Now there’s a drink you can be proud to serve your family. Got milk?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are you ready to Dig IN?

Indiana farmers and Indiana chefs joining forces for an event to celebrate Indiana food???

The folks at Dig IN invite you to "join us on August 28th as dozens of Indiana chefs, farmers, brewers, wineries and artisans descend on White River State Park to celebrate all things Indiana food! Sample dozens of signature dishes made from local product by world-class chefs. Listen to leaders in the Indiana food community speak about food issues. Then, chill in the shade to the tunes of local music acts."

Come visit Indiana's Family of Farmers at Dig IN on August 28, noon- 5 PM at White River State Park.

To get the party started a little early, we are giving away 4 tickets this week to one lucky reader. Just tell us what food says "Indiana" to you???

Friday, August 19, 2011

Meet An Indiana Farmer: Paul

From time to time we will share with you our series of recipe cards and the farmer stories behind them. To enlarge the cards or print them, just click on the images. 

For a complete set of Indiana Farmer Recipe Cards, visit our Recipe Trail at the Indiana State Fair!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buttercup Goes to the Fair

Buttercup went to the fair the other day and saw many wonderful things.  From riding rides on the midway, to eating elephant ears for a snack she had a great time at the fair.  She may have gotten a bit scared at the Veterinarian exhibit but when she saw many of her other friends and the tractors her day was complete!  Join Buttercup at the fair and see what adventures you can have!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Heavy Hearts

Like so many of you, we were saddened to learn about the tragedy the other night at the Sugarland concert. Our hearts go out to those lives lost, their families and others involved. It is with heavy hearts that we returned to our Great Indiana State Fair today.

As many of you know, we had scheduled to give away the remainder of our State Fair tickets today. However, given the recent events, we have decided to forgo our traditional giveaways and just offer the remainder of the tickets on a first come, first serve basis to those that fill out this form. We have four sets of four tickets left. We will update this post when the tickets are gone.

Please note: All the tickets are gone. Thank you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

State Fair Memories

Guest Post By Meggie Foster of Real Farmwives and Hoosier Farm Babe

Ever since I was a little girl, one of my absolute favorite parts of summer has been going to the State Fair. But it has nothing to do with the carnival rides, elephant ears, other fried delicacies or even the Grandstand entertainment.

It has everything to do with showing cows.

Huh? What did you say!? I said … showing cows.

 For anyone who doesn’t show cows, I can imagine it would difficult to fathom the thrill of leading a cow around an arena to be judging on its confirmation. But ever since my family bought my first Jersey calf (her name was Shirley – see photo below) when I was a first-year 4-Her, I have been breeding and raising my own herd of registered Jersey dairy cattle – you know, the cute lil’ brown cows!

So for me, it’s all about the genetics and putting all the hard work of the past year up against your competitors. And in Indiana, the competition is fierce, especially for Jerseys. But aside from the thrill of competition, there is the camaraderie among your fellow exhibitors. These are folks who are not just cattle folk, they are friends. Friends you look forward to seeing every year at the same place – the State Fair. When I was growing up, these friends taught me how to play euchre, and oftentimes helped get me into no-good trouble. Now these friends are married and starting families of their own.

As I looked back in my archived photos for this blog post, all the memories from the Ohio State Fair came flooding back in. My first crush, my first ribbon, winning showmanship, serving as the Ohio Jersey Queen, playing cards until the wee hours of the morning, washing heifers at 4 a.m., the junior Jersey pizza party, water fights and the year we got so much rain that water started flooding into the barn.

Since I married a Hoosier farm boy, I began showing my Jerseys (as an adult) at the Great Indiana State Fair and have made a ton of new friends here. I love my Indiana dairy friends and I seriously heart the Great Indiana State Fair … not for the fair food (although the Pork Tent and Dairy Bar is a must-stop on a daily basis for me) or for the fair entertainment … but for the cow-showin’ good time spent with great friends and my family.

Did I happen to mention … this year will be Baby RayRay’s (my one-year-old daughter) first State Fair ever – to say I’m excited to see her toddling down the aisles of the cattle barn would be a supreme understatement!

Want to learn a little bit more about me - the Hoosier Farm Babe and raising Jersey dairy cattle? Come visit me at the Indiana State Fair in the Dairy Barn (center aisle) next week (Aug. 14-17) and we can grab milkshake from the Dairy Bar together! Yum!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Congrats to Our Ticket Winners!

Congrats to our winners! Email us at to let us know where to mail your tickets.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Great Indiana State Fair!

Five more 4 packs of Indiana State Fair tickets are up for grabs today!

Just leave a comment to tell us how long your family has been going to the fair and then click the widget below to let us know you entered the contest!

Contest ends tonight. Winners announced tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five more winners!

The winners of the Indiana State Fair tickets are...
Shelly (Powell)
Dustin Barnes
Shiney Aim
Karla Schroeder

And the winners of the fair food in addition to your tickets is...

Congrats to our winners!

Email us at and let us know where to mail your tickets!

Monday, August 8, 2011

See You at the State Fair!

Are you enjoying the fair?

We sure are! 

From the animals...

To the food...

To riding in style...

The fair is in full swing! And, to celebrate, we are giving away 5 more Family 4 packs of tickets to our lucky readers! And one of those winners will also win free fair food!!!

To enter, just tell us which animals you can't wait to see at the State Fair...

Winners will be announced tomorrow!

Friday, August 5, 2011

And the tickets go to...

And the 4 packs of tickets go to:

The Rakows in Indianapolis
Katie White
The Fields Family
Kathleen Flook
Denise (Stonemedic76)

Email us at and let us know where to mail your tickets!

See you at the fair!!!

Happy State Fair!

Happy State Fair!

Today is the first day of the Indiana State Fair and we are kicking it off by awarding the Family 4-Pack of Tickets and Indiana Pork Tent meals to....


Congrats Beth!

To continue in the State Fair fun, we are giving away 5 Family 4-Packs of Admission Tickets to lucky readers later today!

All you have to do is comment below and tell us what "year" it is at the State Fair... "The Year of____________" along with an email address where we can reach you.

Winners will be announced later today.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One word: Bacon.


MMM... Bacon.

Check out the 2011 Indiana State Fair Signature Food Finalist this year at the fair...

The BFF Burger.

Bacon Flavored & Fabulous!

Available at the Indiana Pork Tents presented by Indiana pork farmers.

Did we mention bacon?

Want to win tickets to the Indiana State Fair AND food from the Indiana Pork Tents?

Enter here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Indiana Pork Tents – A destination at the Indiana State Fair

By Sarah Ford of Indiana Pork

When I started as the director of public and industry relations at Indiana Pork five years ago, I was given the task of running the Indiana Pork tent concession at the Indiana State Fair (ISF).  A buckeye by birth, I had never been to the ISF so I was na├»ve as to how large this task would be.  Most of all, I had no idea that the pork tents are more than a concession – they are a destination.

Just about everyone I’ve visited with who attends the ISF eats at the pork tents.  For many it’s the one time a year they indulge in a pork burger (and be sure to try the bacon flavored one this year), for others it’s an opportunity to enjoy a full meal at a competitive price.  And for some folks, it’s a chance to sit across the table from a family member or friend and reconnect.

Whatever your reason for visiting one of our three pork tent locations, rest assured that Indiana’s 3,000 family pork farmers thank you for your business.  Every dollar spent goes toward programs that support Indiana’s pork farmers – and taking care of our pigs and serving up good pork is what we do best.

In honor of the ISF pork tent tradition, Indiana Pork is giving away a family 4-pack including 4 admission tickets to the State Fair and 4 meal tickets redeemable at the pork tents.  Just comment with your favorite State Fair memory, and we’ll choose a winner at random Friday morning!