Comfortable waterbeds line the free-stall barn where the Kelsay family’s 500 milk cows live. Their feed contains the nutritionist-recommended balance of roughage, grain, vitamins and minerals. Each cow wears a pedometer, which alerts the family of abnormal activity or change in milk production.
“We wanted to be proactive in being able to tell people we’re doing the right things and being a good steward of our livestock,” says Merrill Kelsay, a co-owner of the sixth-generation farm.
Kelsay Farms joined the voluntary Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) program, which recognizes farmers who publicly demonstrate their commitment to the environment, animal well-being, food safety, emergency planning, biosecurity and being a good neighbor.
As of fall 2014, nearly 100 producers had been accepted to the program and about 30 more were in the process, says Kimmi Devaney, livestock program manager for ISDA.
Participation in the Certified Livestock Producer Program requires an application process, training program, a series of assessments and periodic on-farm reviews. They also work with their farm’s veterinarian to establish a biosecurity plan and the local fire department to arrange an emergency plan.