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Another Lebanon County dairy farm will share the miracle of birth with crowds at the 2023 Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The 107th annual Farm Show runs this year Jan. 7 through 15 at the Farm Show Complex & Expo Center at 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg. This is the sixth year for the Calving Corner, which gives Farm Show patrons a peek into life on a dairy farm.

The exhibit provides an unfiltered barnyard experience that can, at times, be a bit bloody, even traumatic. Calves enter the world under the watchful eyes of hundreds of spectators at any given time and, since dairy cows aren’t especially maternal, calves could be injured if the mother is too clumsy. To prevent accidents, volunteers will whisk the calves away to a safe space after birth where they can get a regulated amount of colostrum, which is freshly milked from the mother and fed by bottle to build the newborn’s immune system.

There, still within view of the audience, calves will often take their first steps.

The Calving Corner is the cornerstone exhibit of the “Destination Dairy” section in Northeast Hall, according to Emily Barge, communications and marketing manager for the Center for Dairy Excellence. The hall will also include “interactive, family-friendly learning stations,” she said, “including activities centered around dairy nutrition, animal care, shopping locally, and more.”

Read More: The miracle of birth, barnyard style: Lebanon farmers take cows to Farm Show’s ‘Calving Corner’

This year, four dairy farms from Lebanon, Lancaster, Juniata and Franklin/Adams counties will be participating in the experience, Barge said.

“Cows representing these four farms will calve on site during the entire length of the Farm Show, so visitors can witness the dairy birthing process and meet newborn calves,” she said. “Dairy industry volunteers will be volunteering at the Calving Corner exhibit throughout the week to answer questions about Pennsylvania dairy.”

Lebanon County will be represented this year by the Krall and Heistand families, owners of Furnace Hill Holsteins.

According to a press release, Joel Krall and his family operate the farm that was started by his parents, Tom and Shirley Krall.

“Elite genetics, comfortable and contented cows, and dedicated employees are the keys to success for Furnace Hill Holsteins,” the release states. “One of these key employees is Justin Heistand, who manages the Elizabethtown herd of Furnace Hill Holsteins. The Kralls, the Heistands, their families and their team strive to be the best caretakers possible of their cows and land by utilizing conservation methods to ensure high quality feed for their 450 cows. The farm and the cows are livelihood and legacy for the families of Furnace Hill Holsteins – Joel and Justin agree it is a great place to raise a family.”

Milk from their cows is used to make Land O’Lakes dairy products.

“Pennsylvania is home to more than 5,200 dairy farm families, nearly 40 dairy processing companies, and a wide array of small-scale dairy creameries and artisan cheese makers,” Barge said. “Ninety-nine percent of all dairy farms in Pennsylvania are family owned. The Destination Dairy exhibit hall will highlight several of the state’s dairy farm families and share the impact Pennsylvania dairy is making within our communities.”

Besides Furnace Hill, the Calving Corner volunteers this year are Cedar Pine Farms, owned by the Rotz family of Franklin and Adams counties; S&A Kreider & Sons, owned by the Kreider family of Quarryville, Lancaster County; and Zugstead Farm, owned by the Zug family of Mifflintown, Juniata County. Cows from only one farm will be on the premises at any given time.

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Tom Knapp

Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


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Great story, Tom!