DARKE COUNTY - On Wednesday approximately 20 people toured three local farming operations with the Freedom Years program through Second National Bank. The tour group members learned how there is not one “true” type of farming operation, but instead there are many different kinds.
The group first toured Cooper Farms out of Ft. Recovery. Outside of a turkey starter farm, they put on disposable plastic boot covers, disposable overalls and hairnets in order to walk inside of the barn. Before entering, they dipped their feet in a pail of disinfectant, ensuring that no disease would enter the barn and harm the 5-day-old toms, or male turkeys.
According to Carl Link, general production manager, Cooper Farms has livestock contracts with 300 local farmers for turkeys, hogs and chickens. Cooper Farms supplies the animals and the feed, and the farmer takes care of the facility and the labor of caring for the animals.
People then saw some of Cooper’s other livestock, including a turkey finishing farm, a hog starter farm and a hog finishing farm through “observation rooms.” Observation rooms are attachments to barns with windows that allowed the tour participants to see the animals—with readily-available food, water and plenty of room to move around—without stepping inside the facility and possibly spreading disease. There were also educational facts about the animals listed on the walls to educate viewers.
At every stop, every tour participant put on a new set of plastic boot covers, which they would dispose of after leaving the observation room.
Jeff Wuebker, who runs Wuebker Farms in Versailles with his brother, Alan, talked about their hog operation and the equipment and technology they use on their farm. They have a farrow-to-wean hog operation. With their 1,800 sows, they produce approximately 43,000 pigs each year.
Wuebker explained the importance of biosecurity to protect pigs from spreading diseases from farm to farm.
“Disease is the biggest thing we face on a hog farm,” said Wuebker, who said the sows they breed are Yorkshire and Landrace crossbreeds.
The brothers also grow corn, soybeans, wheat and hay on 1,200 acres, which they own or rent.
Wuebker showed the tour attendees some John Deere tractors and a combine, allowing people to ask questions and climb into the cabs to see the newer technology inside the equipment.
Dan Kremer runs E.A.T. Food for Life Farm, an organic farm operation located at 14360 Mangen Road, Yorkshire, with the help of his brother-in-law, Scott Smith. The tour participants enjoyed seeing the kittens and chickens (they raise meat chickens and layers) who wandered around their operation; goats and dairy cattle were also visible.
People can obtain raw milk products by herdsharing through Kremer’s Family Farm, which occurs when people purchase a section of a cow, pay a monthly boarding fee for the cow and are able to receive raw milk products such as milk or yogurt.
At their farm store, they offer items for sale such as meat, eggs, honey and cheese from their 140-acre organic farm. Their store is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
To learn more about their organic farming operation, visit www.eatfoodforlife.com/.