We’ve driven by many times on our trips to Chicago and finally carved out time to make a trip up from Indy to the well-known Fair Oaks Farms! Located right off I-65, just north of Lafayette, we tripped up for the day, just about a two-hour drive from our home. We used a Groupon and gave this trip as a gift to our children for Christmas. We ended up using it on President’s Day, a day they were off school in February. It turns out that a cold, gray Monday is a great time to go, as there were very few crowds and school groups there!
Get more info: Fair Oaks Farms
We arrived and were excited to explore! The location is right off I-65 and parking is easy and close to the buildings. It’s very family friendly for all ages and ability levels.
These are the current prices as of the later winter/spring of 2016. Prices are subject to change. Verify before you go.
Just inside the entry is a great, interactive play area. Climb the wall….
Ride the merry-go-round…..
or practice milking a cow. There are many great hands-on activities for all ages (our crew is ages 6 to 12).
We chose to do the dairy experience only. You can also add on a pig experience, but we’re saving that for another trip.
So we loaded the bus and took a tour of the cattle barns. Wow, what a production this is. We learned SO much!
All aboard the bus!
The newborn calves spend about an hour with Mom and then they’re separated and moved out to these individual pins once they’re dry enough to be outdoors.
The stop at the milking barn is intriguing! Did you know they milk all 2800 of their cows three times a day. Three times! That is a lot of milk. In fact, they tell us that 55-60 semi trucks a day leave the farm, each carrying roughly 6000 gallons of milk. Stores like Kroger buy their milk and we as consumers us it for butter, yogurt, ice cream, and drinking milk.
A view from within the bus of the barns. The cows just kept scrolling by. We asked how many people work the farm and they report that only 25 actually tend to the animals. That is amazing, which means they have great systems to keep the farm producing! Some interesting cow facts: they drink 30 gallons of water a day, eat 100 pounds of food a day, and their stalls are cleaned three times a day. Most cows stay here six to eight years, averaging four to five births each in their time on the farm.
The birthing area is set aside, where moms are watched closely as they prepare to deliver. They report upwards of 60 to 80 births happen on the farm EACH day. This is a busy place!
In addition to a special birthing area in the main barns, they have a viewing barn where they drive select moms in labor over for public viewing of live births. If the green light is on outside the barn, a baby is on the way!
We caught this baby after she had just been delivered. We did not get to see her birth, but we did get to see Mama licking her down just minutes after her arrival. We also got to view baby taking her first steps. They walk in the first 60 minutes of life!
We came back for another live birth about an hour after our last visit to the birthing barn. We walked in to find two legs already in progress. We sat quietly while Mama delivered her calf.
About 5 to 10% of deliveries need assistance in delivery and this Mama need a few extra tugs from the farm hand.
And then baby was born! We have never seen anything like this and the set up for viewing is quite spectacular. Fair Oaks Farms has done a wonderful job making this viewable to all ages, to celebrate and view the cycle of life.
Picture source: Fair Oaks Farms Mooville
There is also a lot of outdoor fun at “Mooville” like a climbing wall, playground, train ride, and obstacle course. Those were closed for the season, but we heard another visitor speak about her trip there this summer and she gave the outdoor areas rave reviews!
Picture source: Fair Oaks Farm Cafe page
We also had lunch in their amazing COWfe and then went back for ice cream for dessert. The restaurant (another stop) is not open on Mondays, so we did not get to eat there, but we hear their burgers are great. We had grilled cheese (fabulous), hot dog kids’ meals, and a steak quesedilla. They also serve Starbucks Coffee as well!
What a great trip! This place is a must-do. We can’t wait to go back!
Get more info: Fair Oaks Farms
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