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Moo-ving dairy offers milk lesson to students
Buttercup, a 7-year-old Jersey cow, didn’t care about anything Wednesday morning except for eating alfalfa and “chewing her cud” — chewing the alfalfa a second time after it was regurgitated from her stomach.
She didn’t appear to notice the hundreds of little eyes — belonging to students at Oak Grove Elementary — that were watching her every move.
But there was a purpose for it. It was all part of Dairy Council of California’s “Healthy eating made easy” mobile dairy classroom — a program that has been around since the 1930s and offered to elementary schools free of charge, said Mishael Tarbell, instructor with Mobile Dairy Classroom.
Along the way, the students learned new vocabulary words, the cow’s anatomy, the benefits of milk and the importance of milk production.
The kindergarten through fourth-grade students learned basic information about the 900-pound Buttercup, including how much she eats and drinks, as well as the number of teeth, ribs and stomach compartments she has.
The children laughed as Tarbell, who was demonstrated on the correct way to milk a cow, squirted a stream of warm milk towards the direction of the children. All the while, Tarbell explained the necessary conditions for a cow to give milk, how often cows should be milked, the temperature of the milk as it leaves the cow and some of the final products produced from milk.
As the lesson came to an end, the students, one row at a time, stroked Buttercup’s side as they walked past her.
“Yesterday we learned all about cows,” said Cassie Rios, a third grade teacher. “They were amazed to learn a cow can make 350,000 gallons of milk in a lifetime.”
Rios said the students also worked on a circle map of facts and will follow the cow presentation with a writing assignment.
“My favorite part was when [Tarbell] milked the cow and squirted the front row,” said third grader Elias Fernandez.
The mobile dairy classroom was started in Los Angeles and now has six units in Southern and Central California, Tarbell said.
“They do two presentations a day, from Labor Day through May,” Tarbell said. “We promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating.”