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Students ‘udderly’ intrigued by mobile dairy

There are only 67 dairy farms left in Alabama, none of which are located in Butler County. And then there’s the Mobile Dairy Classroom.

Amanda Griffith, classroom teacher for this milking parlor on wheels, shared a lesson with the 3rd and 4th graders at Greenville Elementary School they won’t likely forget.

Griffith, who travels all over Alabama and portions of northern Florida, helped the children learn the ways milk “does a body good” while Cocoa, the 800 lb. Jersey cow, batted her big brown eyes and quietly chewed her cud.

Griffith also explained how milk goes from the cow on the dairy farm to the processing plant and then onto schools and stores.

Turns out, it’s important for these bovines to get some TLC.

“They have fans and misters in the cow barns because a hot cow gives less milk . . . they want to keep them happy, healthy and comfy,” Griffith said.

A smaller dairy cow like Cocoa can produce 55 lbs., or five to six gallons of milk a day. A big dairy cow like a Holstein can produce as much as 120 lbs., or 13 to 14 gallons a day, Griffith explained.

“Imagine carrying that much extra weight around all day long. Milking the cow relieves that weight and pressure. Dairy cows are usually milked two to three times daily,” Griffith said.

Cocoa was hooked up to the milking machine on board the trailer, allowing the students to see the same process used in modern-day dairy farming.

But not before Griffith playfully directed a few squirts directly from Cocoa’s udder toward her audience.

“And a cow doesn’t have udders, just one udder. Four stomachs, one udder and four teats,” she explained.

Students watched with fascination as the milking claw used suction power to squeeze and pull Cocoa’s teats, with the raw, warm milk flowing into a large glass tank.

“Could you drink this milk? Well, it’s as fresh as it gets. However, the State of Alabama says by law you can’t drink it, because it has to be” – Griffith moved her fingers across her face with a grin – “pasteurized.”

The Mobile Dairy Classroom is a joint project between the Alabama Dairy Farmers, Southwest Dairy Farmers and Lone Star Milk Products. Anyone interested in having Griffith and Cocoa visit their school or event should visit www.mobiledairy.com or email agriffith@SouthwestDairyFarmers.com.