Tablet Local

Dairy farmers leak information at the Stock Show

When Todd Griffin was growing up, he drank milk with every meal — something he hasn’t changed as an adult.

“We are bombarded with so many choices, but you can’t deny the evidence,” said Griffin, 50. “Science tells us women that drink three 8-ounce glasses of milk a day can decrease the risk of breast cancer by about 50 percent.”

In 1997, Griffin joined the Southwest Dairy Farmers alliance, which is made up of farmers from Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma who travel across the six states to educate the population on all things dairy.

People should drink three glasses of milk a day, but one singular pea is more than enough, he joked.

Typically, dairy cows are milked twice a day, but during the 23-day Fort Worth Stock Show, the Brown Swiss cattle showcased in the exhibit are milked in public on the hour from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Five-year-old Derian Grimes pressed his face against the cool glass barrier in anticipation. The Lake Worth prekindergartener explained that he only drinks strawberry and chocolate milk without a fight, but still likes to watch the milking process.

Cows need three things to produce milk for consumption, Kansas native Callie Unruh explained to an audience packed with babies to grandparents.

Unruh, a mobile dairy classroom instructor with the Southwest Dairy Farmers, said cows need to eat, drink a lot of water and give birth.

Cows need to eat between 60 and 70 pounds of food a day, which mostly consists of corn, hay and grass. They also need to drink a bathtub worth of water each day, because milk is 87 percent water. Finally, and this is imperative, they need to give birth about once every year to keep the milk flow going, Unruh said.

Unruh cleaned one of the two cows’ udders with iodine and then dried the excess off with a paper towel. She explained to eager little onlookers that dairy farmers don’t use their hands to milk their cows anymore because it takes too long and isn’t sanitary. Instead, they use a “milking claw” that attaches to their udders and relieves them of pressure from the milk.

The milk then went shooting out down the pumps into a reservoir.

“I like it,” exclaimed 4-year-old Mikaela Campos of Lake Worth.

Corbin Garner of Leonard took a break from tending to his three sheep to watch the milking process.

The 9-year-old said he was amazed by how much milk the cows produce.

Garner is one of about 2,000 kids who learned this week that calves drink one gallon of their mother’s milk a day, and that the remaining 6 to 10 gallons are packaged for humans.

Garner said the demonstration at the Milk Parlor between Cattle Barn 1 and 2 made him excited about milk, and in turn he said he’ll be less wasteful.

Milk has nine essential vitamins and nutrients including: niacin, potassium, riboflavin, protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A, D and B12, which help our metabolism, eyesight, skin, hair and nails, Unruh said.

“Our whole focus is to educate people about the nutritional value of milk. Most things you hear about it are negative, and just because someone puts something on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s true,” Griffin said. “I’ve raised three kids on dairy products and milk. There’s never been a broken bone in my house.”

Bring the cows to you

As a part of the Southwest Dairy Farmers’ Mobile Dairy Classroom, dairy enthusiasts visit schools and events across seven states, including Texas, to educate the public and show how cows are milked.

They talk about nutrition, exercise and the importance of protecting the environment, mobile dairy instructor Todd Griffin said.

Want a cow to come to your school? Teachers can go to and fill out the request form. The visits are free, but a minimum of 200 people must be present for the 45-minute presentation.