OPEN HOUSE DATE: JUNE 18 OPEN HOUSES (FROM NOON TO 5 P.M.)

Forty-one years ago, Fred and his wife Pat Beer founded Beer Dairy in Milford, Indiana. The farm is currently run by Fred and his two sons, Regg and Jeff. Regg and Jeff were both raised on the farm, and are now raising their children there.

The Beer family is currently milking about 840 cows. Before 2009, the family was milking about 300 cows, but since Jeff had come back to the farm full-time in 2007, and Regg would be coming back in 2012, an expansion was needed to provide now for three families and three generations of Beers.

They milk in a double 12 herringbone style parlor, which means 24 cows are milked at a time (12 on each side, with a walkway in between for the people milking) and that the cows arrange themselves in a “herringbone” style, standing at an angle. As on other dairy farms, the cows are so comfortable with their milking routine that they amble in to the milking parlor without much assistance. Cows are creatures of habit and tend to even pick the same side of the parlor and go in about the same order every day.

The Beers use a “cross ventilated” freestall barn to house their cows, which means that the cows are free to lay down where they like, eat and drink whenever they choose, and amble around wherever she wants, all within a barn that is cool and shady in the summertime and snug against northern Indiana’s sometimes bitter winters.

The Beer family also places a priority on making sure the baby calves are happy and healthy as they will grow up to be the future milking herd of the farm. The Beers use automated calf feeders, which are a computerized robot (not quite like the Jetson’s—think more like a high-tech soda fountain) that reads a radio frequency ID tag in the calf’s ear. The computer is programmed to know how much milk each calf needs to drink and to mix up the right amount for each of the little girls. If a calf isn’t drinking her milk, the computer will flag that there may be a problem—she could have a little cold or simply be getting bullied by bossier calves. Either way, the Beers can jump in and help her.

Beer Dairy is a member of Prairie Farms Cooperative, so milk in a Prairie Farms container could come from this farm.