#FarmLove – Woody Hill Farm | Where Agriculture Meets Technology

#FarmLove – Woody Hill Farm | Where Agriculture Meets Technology

Salem is an upstate New York community of fewer than 3,000 inhabitants. Located in Washington County, east of Saratoga Springs and southeast of Lake George, it’s a town steeped in Revolutionary and Civil War history and rural charm. Nowadays, Salem is primarily an agricultural community. Farming is a vital part of the town’s economy.
Woody Hill Farm
Driving through downtown Salem on NY Route 22, you’ll soon arrive at Woody Hill Farm, just a few miles outside of the quaint village. A metal-cut sign accentuated by two boulders—commonly found in the local landscape where farms and quarries are ample—welcomes you to the 1,500-acre farm that’s home to 1,200 milking cows.
Woody Hill Farm Sign

The History of Woody Hill Farm
The Sheldon family has made the farm, which dates back to 1946, their livelihood and legacy. They’re one of 1,000 Cabot farm families who collectively own the Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Mark and Jennifer Cary took over part ownership of the farm from Jennifer’s father and uncle, who have a long history in farming, dating back to Colonial times in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Woody Hill Farm
With a herd of 1,200 holsteins comes a lot of feeding and milking. Woody Hill Farm harvests 18,000 tons of corn silage each year from 1,000 acres. Each cow eats 125 pounds of feed per day and drinks a bathtub full of water, equally roughly 30-50 gallons, to keep each cow producing quality milk at a steady rate.

Technology Meets Agriculture

At Woody Hill Farm, technology meets agriculture. Automation in the parlor helps the farm operate efficiently to ensure all 1,200 cows make it through the rotation. There are two rotary milking parlors inside Woody Hill Farm that help automate the milking process, improving yield and increasing output while reducing labor. There are 18 full-time inside crew members and 7 full-time outside crew members who help ensure the cows are rotated through for milking. Woody Hill Farm employs over 25 people, many of whom have been with the farm for over 20 years.

Cows in the barn - Woody Hill Farm

All of the cows have their information stored digitally. Woody Hill Farm streamlines its operations through implementing advanced, 21st-century technologies for milking that allow the owners and the farm’s staff to find efficiencies for the milkers and the cows.

Once Woody Hill Farm’s cows are milked, the milk runs through an intricate system into an Agri-Mark tanker for transportation. Each tanker holds 69,500 pounds of milk, which is equivalent to 8,081 gallons or 129,296 eight-ounce glasses of milk. Milk is stored in the tanker at 34 degrees. In 24 hours, Woody Hill Farm’s cows make 101,000 pounds of milk, totaling 11,800 gallons or 188,250 eight-ounce glasses of milk.

Open Farm Sunday
On Cabot’s Open Farm Sunday in early October 2016, Woody Hill Farm opened the farm to locals and tourists alike for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the daily operations of a milking operation of this size. Cabot hosts this event every other year as a way to showcase their farms and educate consumers on where the milk for the World’s Best Cheddar and other award-winning Cabot products comes from.
Cows in the barn - Woody Hill Farm

Complete with a sand mound for climbing, a “sandbox” full of corn kernels, and a petting farm with goats and three young calves, the open-farm day was a family affair. It was also a chance for Woody Hill Farm to demonstrate effortlessly how everyone in their family—from children to grandparents—plays a role on the farm.

Signage at Woody Hill Farm

At Open Farm Sunday, kids nibbled on samples of Cabot’s New York Vintage premium aged cheddar cheese from the Farmers’ Legacy Collection, while also collecting coloring books and scavenger hunt booklets and choosing their favorite Cabot-branded temporary tattoos. Washington County’s Dairy Princess, along with Dairy Ambassadors, attended the event to teach visitors about cows and agriculture at large. When families weren’t touring Woody Hill Farm’s acreage by a hay ride, the large milking parlor was open for observation and the barns were open for visiting with the cows. Guests could also feed the goats and the baby calves for a hands-on agriculture experience to get a taste of the daily-life the Sheldon and Cary families live and breathe.

Open Farm Sunday - Woody Hill Farm
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