By: Amariah Torres
Dairy Council of California recently hosted a two-day dairy tour at Konyn Dairy Farm in Southern California for the San Diego Farm to School Taskforce members to educate on the importance of dairy’s role in a sustainable food system. As a new employee to Dairy Council of California , I was fortunate to attend this tour to connect to with the dairy farmer and grow my knowledge of the sustainability efforts happening on dairy farms across California. The gray and rainy days of May couldn’t deter us from learning firsthand about life on a dairy farm and all the thoughtful work and dedication that goes into producing California’s No. 1 commodity, milk.
Konyn Dairy Farm is family owned and managed by Frank and Stacy Konyn and has been in operation for over 60 years. This dairy is one of the last in San Diego County, and visiting was an unforgettable experience for me.
"I think it's great to be out of the office and being able to see where our food comes from. It's important for students to know how their food is made." – Konyn Dairy Tour Participant
Frank was our dairy tour guide, and despite the rainy conditions that day he delivered an exceptional and informative tour that was very hands on and interactive. He began by introducing a dairy cow and explaining the process of hand milking versus machine-assisted milking. We learned cows are milked two to three times a day, and machine-assisted milking takes just 5–7 minutes. Frank also showed the tour attendees how fresh milk looks before it is processed, and we were surprised to learn that freshly pumped milk is thick and frothy before it is homogenized.
"It was very interesting; I'm learning a lot, and the differences between cow breeds. It is really nice to see how they take really good care of their animals." – Konyn Dairy Tour Participant
The tour continued in the main dairy milking barn where we saw up close how a milking parlor looks. It was fascinating how everyone worked so efficiently and with much care and attention to detail! Frank explained how ensuring his cows are comfortable while in the milking parlor is extremely important to him and his staff.
As the tour progressed, Frank went into further detail about sustainable practices on the dairy farm. He explained that he owns compost, trucking and dairy businesses that play a role in upcycling waste, which helps keep by-products out of landfills. Frank took us to an area where towers of baked goods, almond hulls and alfalfa had been ground into feed. At Konyn Dairy Farm, Frank picks up food waste from nearby restaurants and food factories, then makes this food waste into nutritious food for his cows rather than sending it to the landfill. To make sure the feed meets the dairy cows’ nutritional needs an animal nutritionist is regularly consulted. Cow manure is composted to create nutrient-dense soil for his own crops and for the community to purchase. Frank’s method of upcycling benefits not only his business but also the environment as he continues to find alternative ways to utilize agricultural by-products.
"It was definitely very eye-opening because I never thought about the back-end of dairy farming, and it's great to see sustainability efforts in effect on this farm." – Konyn Dairy Tour Participant
The farm tour made a deep impression on me, and I learned a lot from my time spent at Konyn Dairy. The facts shared about dairy cows, the care dairy farmers give their herds and the ongoing sustainability efforts of upcycling through Frank’s businesses show how California dairy farmers place an emphasis on the care of their animals, product and the environment.
Amariah Torres is a full time data analyst supporting data analysis and evaluation work.
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