Nicole Duvall has been operating the Mobile Dairy Classroom out of Madison, Ga. for the past 10 years.
She travels all across the state to schools, libraries and public events to educate kids and adults alike about the ins and outs of running a dairy farm.
“This is kind of a community outreach, because we can go to schools for free…for the schools to go, you know, most of them it cost something,” Duvall said. “A lot of schools only get like two or three field trips a year and to certain places so this is just - it works out good for our school systems.”
Kids at the Dawson County Satellite Library on June 18 couldn’t contain their excitement when Duvall pulled up to where they were seated under a tent and opened up the side door of a trailer to reveal Jasmine, a three-year-old brown cow ready to be milked.
Jasmine, who goes by the nickname Jazzy, is a Jersey cow and weighs 800 pounds.
Jersey cows are much smaller than the black and white Holstein cows that reach about 1,500 pounds, Duvall said.
Jersey cows are great milking cows because, although they are smaller in size, their milk produces more cream which makes them great for producing whipped cream, ice cream, coffee creamer and butter.
Kids were amazed when Duvall explained that a typical day at the dairy farm for Jazzy requires being milked at 3:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. She also eats about 50 pounds of feed and drinks 20-30 gallons of water every day so that she can produce up to eight gallons of milk per day.
Duvall also explained how some dairy farms in southern Georgia cross breed Jersey and Holstein cows so that they are better suited for the summer heat. Holstein cows typically enjoy 42 degree weather, so by crossing them with the smaller Jersey cows, they produce milking cows better adapted to the southern climate.
“If you’ve ever seen a lab crossed with a poodle they’re called a labradoodle, and you get both of those great qualities from those two different breeds of dogs,” Duvall explained. “It’s the same with our cows. If we cross a Jersey with a Holstein you’re going to get both of those great qualities from those two different breeds.”
Duvall whipped out her milking machine and demonstrated how cows get milked on the farm. First, the farmers sanitize their hands then sanitize the cows’ utters with pre-milking drip. Then the machine’s nozzles are gently attached to the utter and suction milk out like a vacuum cleaner. Once the cows have been milked, the milk must be cleaned through pasteurization and tested to make sure it’s antibiotic free.
As an industry, Georgia currently has 188,000 milking cows across the state and 99 percent of the dairy farms are family owned.
After learning all about dairy cows and the importance of milk, kids had the chance to go up to pet Jazzy, careful only to touch her face and side. Many kids couldn’t hold back their smiles as they reached out to pet the docile bovine.
With over 40 kids making their way to the satellite library, it was definitely a big turnout for its first summer reading program event.
The Mobile Dairy Classroom is sponsored by the Dairy Farm Families of Georgia and commissioned by the Department of Agriculture.