Sustainable Dairy Products, Right Outside Chicago
Our farm and community looks a lot different today than it did years ago. We are in the incorporated village of Campton Hills, just 40 miles from Chicago, and our dairy farm is now just one of three dairies remaining in an area that was once home to more than 140 dairy farms and creameries.
Being surrounded by three subdivisions challenged our family to think outside the box on how we could raise sustainable dairy products on less land – and with a new definition of what being a “good neighbor” means. My husband and I took on the role of managing the farm in 2014, and began envisioning what it would take for our farm to be successful in the future. After much planning and consideration, we designed a new hi-tech barn to improve cow comfort, milk quality and sustainability for years to come.
A TECH-BASED APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY
When we were designing the barn, we opted for tech-based features that would support our goal of animal well-being and producing more sustainable dairy products. Here are a few examples:
- With a robotic milking parlor (where cows are milked), cows are free to visit the milking unit whenever they want, giving them lots of space to enjoy.
- Energy efficient fans keep our cows comfortable 365 days a year without wasting energy.
- Photosensitive, time-controlled, energy efficient LED lighting provides an estimated energy savings of around 50%.
- A storm water system collects rainwater and transfers it to designated waterways, minimizing soil erosion and preventing runoff in surrounding fields and ditches.
- Insulated barn ceilings moderate extreme weather and create more efficient air flow.
- A pit under the barn collects manure that we can incorporate into fields as fertilizer.
TECHNOLOGY + SUSTAINABILITY = BETTER NEIGHBOR
Some of our new barn features help us be more considerate of our neighbors:
- The covered manure pit under the barn minimizes odors.
- To keep noise levels down for houses across the street, the always-on robotic milking units are run with a variable speed motor and located on the far end of the barn.
- To reduce tractor traffic around the farmstead, we use robots to help move feed and clean cow stalls.
We want our farm to be around for years to come, and being good stewards of our resources and community are essential to making that a reality. If you are curious about our farm and what it takes to raise sustainable dairy products, our doors are open! In the meantime, read about a group of future dietitians that toured our farm and asked some of the same questions you may have.