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The Sun letter to the editor: A word from your Erie County dairy princess, Nicole Achtyl

Hello everyone! This is your 2013 – 2014 Erie County dairy princess here, to talk to you about the dairy industry and dairy products.

My name is Nicole Achtyl and I am 19 years old and live in Lawtons, N.Y. I have grown up around dairy cattle and have worked on local, small tie stall dairy farms in the area, milking cows. I attend school at Morrisville State College for dairy science and, once I have my bachelor’s, I would like to work in the genetics program for dairy cattle.

I am going to tell you a little about dairy farms and the environment. How many of us see signs about being green for the planet? They are all over. Companies use them to promote products by saying things like “made with 25 percent less plastic” on things like water bottles.

Well, did you know the dairy industry is a very go-green supporter, as well? A lot of us drive around now and can find a place that has windmills up. Well, some farms are putting their own windmills up for reason, as to cut energy costs.

Richmond Farms in North Collins has recently put a farm windmill up, to help reduce their carbon footprint. The energy used in the summer to run fans on the hot humid days, the energy in lights and the energy used in the parlor where cows are milked are just some examples at which energy is used on the farm. This can save farms a lot and it helps protect the environment.

Other farms are re-using and recycling materials like waste. Phillip’s Family Farm in North Collins has pull in a flush system that is used to save bedding. Cows are bedded in the stalls with sand, which is very comfortable to cows. Sand happens to be one of the bedding types cows will choose over others.

The manure and dirt sand is placed in the alley between the beds, once cows are moved to the parlor for milking, and water flushes all the waste out the barn to a cement pad with a shallow canal that has barely any slope to it: about 1 percent slope.

The water, sand and manure slow, once they reach this alley and, by gravity, the sand settles right away and the manure and water continue to tickle down the alley. The sand is pulled out of the alley and is put in what are called wind-rows, to dry the sand.

The sand is turned, once a day, for about two weeks, to dry it all the way. The sand is then re-used to bed cows.

That’s not all, though. The water is reused to run the flush system again and the manure, which is separates, which a gravity screen is used to put nutrients back into the fields.

I would say that is a really good system, because everything is reused. Manure can also be used to power the farm, by taking the waste and breaking down the methane in it and using it to fuel the energy to run the farm. This is done with a manure digester.

Farmers also can recycle their plastics and be sure to keep the farms clean.

Farmers do a lot to keep their environment healthy and neat. What do you do to help be green for the planet? Email me at and tell me what you do to be green.

If you have any questions relating to this topic, dairy farming or dairy products, you can also contact me that way. I will answer the questions to the best of my ability.

Remember to have your three servings of dairy products every day; things like milk, cheese and yogurt.

Nicole Achtyl
Erie County dairy princess

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