FORT WORTH -- On Friday morning, 66 second-graders from Phillips Elementary School in Fort Worth learned where milk comes from. (Spoiler alert: not from grocery stores.)
The youngsters, all decked out in red bandannas bought for them by their teachers, filled metal bleachers in a barn at the Fort Worth Stock Show. They watched as a young woman named Amanda Griffith reached beneath a cow to a full udder, grabbed a teat and squeezed, squirting some of the white liquid toward the kids. They howled. The only thing better would have been cookies with that milk.
There is actually much more to the milking demonstrations by the Southwest Dairy Farmers, which go on at regular intervals throughout the day. Griffith, Todd Griffin and Cody Lightfoot are among several instructors who travel the Southwest with what is called a Mobile Dairy Classroom. On Friday, while his partners tended to the cows, Lightfoot warmed up his audience.
"Who likes milk?"
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Every hand shot up.
"Who likes yogurt?"
Every hand shot up.
"Who likes cottage cheese?"
Every hand shot up, until the kids realized it was a trick question.
"Why do cows make milk?" Lightfoot said.
"For their babies," some of the kids responded.
"Right. To feed their babies because they are mammals," Lightfoot said.
Just like with humans, only cows who have just given birth produce milk, and produce and produce and produce. After dropping a calf, cows are often milked three times a day for 10 months.
Calves, by the way, are often fed their mother's milk from bottles. No way the little ones could drink all that milk, Lightfoot said. The largest milk cows, the black and white Holsteins (more popularly known as the Chick-fil-A cows) produce up to 20 gallons a day.
The cows also eat up to 100 pounds of feed a day, "like eating two kindergartners," Lightfoot said.
Enough fun facts.
"Who wants to see the cows get milked?" Lightfoot said.
No more squirts at the audience, though. After carefully cleaning udders, Griffith and Griffin attached clusters of soft rubber caps to the teats of two cows. The caps, which are mechanically squeezed, are attached to a hose, through which milk flows to big glass canisters.
"You get a lot of oohs and aahs," Lightfoot said later. "When they see that milk come out, their eyes get big."
But no cookies.
Tim Madigan, 817-390-7544