By Mike Pearson • METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP
Even in a snowstorm, or on Christmas morning, there’s still plenty of work to be done at Summitholm Farm.
For the third straight year, guests were invited to tour the Loewith family dairy farm on Powerline Road West. Summitholm is one of Ontario’s larger dairy operations. The farm has been consistently recognized as one of Ontario’s top producing dairy farms.
Ben Loewith is one of five full-time employees, who manages the 350-head dairy farm. He’s following in the footsteps of his father, Carl and uncle Dave.
Loewith said the annual farm tour aims to provide young people from the city a greater understanding of a working farm. The third annual tour on Dec. 27 was organized by the Wentworth County Milk Producers.
“Thirty years ago, everybody had a relative that had a farm,” said Loewith. “The kids now are three or four generations off the farm.”
Loewith said the farm tour also seeks to dispel some of the misconceptions about agriculture. The term factory farm is often a misnomer, because most farms are in fact family-operated.
Founded in 1947 by Joe and Minna Loewith, Summitholm remains a family-run farm.
An estimated 350 Holstein cows are milked in three shifts daily at Summitholm. There are no exceptions to the milking schedule, even during the holidays. The farm produces a whopping 4.6 million litres of milk each year.
Loewith was among the farmhands working on Christmas day to conduct milking operations using the farm’s computerized equipment. Farm tour-goers began their excursion by watching a milking session. Also on the tour, Holsteins were feeding on a mixture of hay, grains and minerals. A dairy cow will consume an average of 60 pounds of feed daily and 40 gallons of water.
Along with computerized milking equipment, Summitholm uses pedometers to measure the mobility of each cow. Mechanisms record how much time the cows spend lying down, which offers a possible indicator of illness. While milking operations take about 12 hours each day, other duties include feeding, cleaning and scraping out the barns.
Behind the cattle barns are shelters for calves that are just a few weeks old. Guests of the tour were invited to pet the young cattle and take photos.
While last week’s snowstorm may have kept a few visitors away, Loewith said dairy cows are perfectly content in colder weather.
“Cows are comfortable in minus-10 degree weather,” said Loewith. “The heat is more of a problem.”