Wednesday, July 27, 2016

And on this Farm We have Some Sheep, and Chickens, and Hogs….

Due to some technical challenges with the blog, this post has been delayed a few days.

On Monday we took our last two agricultural tours. One to the Coop Agricoltura Nuova and the other to the Az. Ag. Maccarese. The two operations differed greatly one from another and gave us a good idea of just how unique and varying the agricultural practices can be in Italy. 

The Coop Agricoltura Nuova is a 540 acre organic diversified cooperative farm that direct sells all its products either at the farm or four locations in Rome. Thirty coop owners work in various areas of specialty on the farm. Products produced or cared for at the farm include vegetables, fruit, hogs, cattle, sheep, horses, chickens, cheese, milk, bees and honey.
A portion of the onsite store where the farm products are sold.
1150 laying hens produce eggs sold for $.58 per egg.
Hogs are butchered and processed right on the farm and
sold in various cuts or as sausage, salami, etc.
Eggplant, along with the zucchini and bell peppers, have been the in-season 
vegetables in Italy as they have appeared in many forms in our meals.
Riikka shows us the two variety of zucchini blossoms. We have found these blossoms
in a few of our dishes throughout the trip and have found them to be quite tasty.
Sheep are milked and the milk is made into yogurt, ricotta and various other 
cheeses. We taste tested the different cheeses and the farm's honey as our lunch appetizer.

Next we toured the Az. Ag. Maccarese, a 3400 acre and 8000 head dairy operation, owned by the Benetton family. This family also owns the international airport in Rome, the Benetton clothing line and the toll ways in the Rome area so the dairy operation is only one of many business ventures owned by the family. 

The dairy was purchased in 1996 for $42.1M and the Benetton family has since invested in $23.4M in improvements with more to come. Basically, the previous buildings were torn down and new facilities built.
Bio-security is of high importance at the farm so we all put of our booties prior to the tour.

Baby calves are taken from their mothers immediately upon birth and live in
these raised huts. They are currently conducting research by feeding the calves
two times per day with a limit of six liters of milk. Kathy Nelson and
Karen Thaler enjoy a closer look at the calves.
All female calves are kept back for breeding and/or milking and all males are fed out to market weight.
The cows are housed in a controlled environment to keep the body temperature at 39
degrees Celsius. Fan and sprinkler systems alternate to keep the body temps consistent. 
In a 60 head milking parlor cows are milked two times per day producing an
average of 30-35 liters per day. Total daily production is 39,000 liters.
Heifers are impregnated at 13 months of age and sold as bred heifers at 16 months for about $2100. 
The SDARL group with our tour guides at the dairy.