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Dear Dairy: Mobile dairy visits Eisenhower School
Callie Toews and a Jersey cow named Jitterbug visited Eisenhower Elementary School on Friday. The mobile dairy is an education service offered by the Southwest Dairy Farmers and was sponsored by Hiss Dairy, Great Bend. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

To teach children how cows’ milk is collected, Callie Toews brought a dairy to Eisenhower Elementary School on Friday.
The Southwest Dairy Farmers’ rolling museum was sponsored by Jim and Melinda Hiss from Hiss Dairy in Great Bend.
Schools would love to have field trips to the local dairy, Melinda Hiss said, but it isn’t always possible. This program brings a live cow directly to the kids. On Friday, they watched as Toews attached a milking machine to the udder of Jitterbug, a Jersey cow.
Her 30-minute program explained the benefits of dairy products, which provide potassium, Vitamin B12, niacin, protein, Vitamin D, calcium and more.
“We need milk and dairy products every day to keep our bodies healthy,” Toews said, telling the children they need three servings a day.

Toews started her program by asking the children to all say, “eww!”
“That’s the last time you can say that today,” she said.

Jitterbug is a living being, she reminded them. If something in the presentation causes them to think “eww” or “gross,” she said, “replace it with ‘cool’!”
By the end of the program, one student told a friend, “I want a cow.”

Cow facts
Jersey cows produce the richest milk, providing 6-8 gallons every day, Toews said. Ninety-five percent of our milk comes from Holstein cows, which produce 8-12 gallons of milk daily.
Before a cow can give milk it must produce a calf.
“If they do not give birth to a baby calf, they will never be able to make milk,” Toews said.
One year in the life of a cow is comparable to 12 human years, Toews said, so a cow is an adult by age 2. Jitterbug is 5 years old and has had four calves. Her life expectancy is six to eight years.
The children already knew that chocolate milk does not come from “chocolate cows.” The milk that comes from any cow is white. After it is collected it is refrigerated, pasteurized and homogenized and is ready to drink or become part of a dairy product — maybe even chocolate milk.
However, it is true that cows like to eat chocolate, and potato chips, too, Toews said. So, while cows eat a lot of grass and grain, some are fed other things. Those that live close to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for example, may get to enjoy bags of salvage chocolate. Feeding discarded human food to livestock is a common practice, one way that industries make the most of everything available. Likewise, one of the most common grains for cows is corn silage, which is made from the whole plant.
“Even though she eats chocolate, she’s not going to make chocolate milk,” Toews reminded the children.
A cow that is producing milk eats 80 to 100 pounds of food each day and drinks a bathtub full of water, Toews said.
Not everything that comes from a cow is edible, but Toews said cow manure also has its uses.
“When she uses the rest-room, she makes fertilizer,” she said. (“Cool.”)
Modern dairy farms use milking machines, much like the one Toews attached to Jitterbug, and today there are automatic milking systems and even robotic milking systems. But one thing never changes, Toews and Hiss noted. The cows never take a day off from producing milk and a dairy never takes a day off, either.
Toews, who holds an animal science degree from Kansas State University, takes the mobile dairy around the state. Her programs are free for schools, she said. For more information visit the Southwest Dairy Farmers website