ELVERSON, Pa. — Over 1,000 people descended on this small Pennsylvania town Sept. 21 for breakfast at a place they might never otherwise visit — a dairy farm.
The program at Kurtland Farms, organized by the Center for Dairy Excellence, was designed to educate consumers about the dairy industry and promote milk.
“People don’t have a lot of contact with cows,” said Jared Kurtz, one of the family members who run the farm.
The farm is conveniently located near the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 176 and other major highways in southeastern Pennsylvania, said Jayne Sebright, the center’s executive director.
“It seems to be efficient and smells like cow,” said Zeb Congdon of Philadelphia, who brought his nieces. He enjoyed learning about cheesemaking.
While there was plenty of food — French toast, eggs and doughnuts in addition to dairy products like yogurt, milk and chocolate milk — the centerpiece of the event might have been the farm’s milking robots.
The four milking robots serve about 220 cows, while the other 60 cows are kept in a tie-stall barn.
Trey M., a student at the Milton Hershey School, had thought that dairy farmers were still milking cows by hand, and she was glad to know that milking doesn’t hurt the cows.
“I liked how they showed how they milked the cows,” she said.
Another student, Hailey K., liked a demonstration about the breakdown of enzymes in milk.
“It was fun to shake it and make it,” Hailey said.
A school chaperone asked the students to identify themselves by first name and last initial.
A number of dairy farmers volunteered to help out at the event.
One of them, Yvette Longenecker, traveled three hours from Williamsburg, Blair County, to answer visitors’ questions at one of the robotic milkers.
Longenecker said the questions she received ranged from “Do the cows enjoy being milked?” to “How does the robot work?”
Some of the visitors already knew what to expect at the farm.
Marianne Stoltzfus, who stopped by with her husband, Luke, is a family friend of the Kurtzes.
“When you drive by, you see this little farm, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes effort,” she said.