How many of us get sucked into reality television on a weekly basis? What’s your go-to show? I fully admit that when I was in college I blocked off every single Monday evening with my fellow students, grabbed some snacks and gathered to watch “The Bachelor.” As a 20-something year old, this show was pretty entertaining but looking back now, I’ve definitely learned that there’s more than what meets the eye and reality T.V. isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
“The Bachelor,” a reality T.V. show focused on match-making, recently took a group date (which is normal on this show) to visit a Wisconsin dairy farm. When this date was first made public, I did some research and quickly learned that this farm, Knigge Farm, was the first farm in the country to install and utilize robotic milking machines. A family farm focused on milking 130 cows is also focused on advanced technology but after watching reality T.V., you’d never know this. While I’m proud that this farm family opened their doors and the show included a sector of the agriculture industry, I’m disappointed that this so-called “date” focused on the mundane tasks of dairy farming that are typically automated and efficient.
Milking cows has come a long way over the years and has evolved to include mechanization, technology, automation, refrigeration, and so much more. We’re no longer milking our single cow in the backyard to get our milk to churn into butter or make cheese. Farmers are working with machines that allow robots to do the work and cows to determine when they want to be milked. When reality T.V. portrays milking cows by hand as a typical everyday task, it’s important to remember that those are the days of the past and farmers are working towards their future.
One of the top priorities on every single successful dairy farm is the health of the animals which includes comfortable beds and clean barns. While you may have seen a group of women shoveling manure by hand into a bucket on a tractor during the show, I must break it to you – this is not how it’s typically done on a modern dairy farm. Typically, the tractor with a bucket does the work with a farmer behind the steering wheel. There are even farms today with automatic barn cleaners resulting in efficient, consistent cleaning allowing farmers to focus on other essential decisions and work on the farm.
Dairy farming may not be for reality television, but it is reality for many families across the country. In fact, 98% of farms are family owned and operated and we’re proud that more than 5,000 farms call New York State their home. Visiting a farm may not be your typical romantic date but remember there are people who chose this profession and chose to advance this industry because of their passion. So while this reality television show portrayed dairy farming similar to how generations past have done it, there’s much more than what meets the eye and dairy farmers across New York State are ready to open their doors and share their reality with you.
For a behind the scenes look at the filming of at the Knigge Farm, check out this article in Hoards Dairyman.