; Understanding the importance of dairy products in the diet
; Learning the steps in producing/processing milk ; Describing safeguards for keeping milk safe and fresh ; Recognizing interesting facts about cows
Breeds of Cows
90% of the milk in the U.S. comes from Holstein cows- just like the ones you
will see on the tour!
The most common breeds are:
; Holstein (black and white)
; Jersey (yellowish-brown)
; Guernsey (tan & white)
; Brown Swiss (dark brown or gray)
; Ayrshire (white with reddish spots)
Height 5- 5 1/2 ft
Weight 1400 lbs
Body Temp. 101.5
Amt. of Milk 70-100 lbs/day
cud- food swallowed by the cow but not chewed until later
Dry Cow- cows are not milked for the last 2 months of their pregnancy
homogenize- blends milk so butterfat is distributed evenly throughout
pasteurize- milk is heated very quickly then cooled rapidly to kill
bacteria and protect purity
silage- a mixture of chopped hay and corn
teat- one of the 4 nipples on the cow's udder where milk comes out
udder- part of the cow where milk is stored
milker- machine that sucks the milk out of the cows teats
parlor- a building where cows are milked
TMR- (or Total Mixed Ration) the blending of all feedstuffs into a
complete ration to meet the nourishment needs of dairy cows
manure- barnyard animal feces
fertilizer- special nutrients put into the ground to feed and make plants
heifer- a young female cow
processing plant- place where milk is taken to be pasteurized and
Cow Eating Habits
Swisslane Dairy cows eat a Total Mixed Ration (TMR). This ensures that each bite consumed contains the required level of nutients (energy, protein, minerals and vitamins) needed by the cows. Dairy nutrition is a complex science. Feeding cows a TMR ultimately increases production, reproduction, and herd health. With this diet a more uniform milk is produced. Dairy cows are creatures of habit. Feeding consistency, quality of feed, timing and method of delivery, and feeding facilities all have a major influence on milk production.
Each day one cow will eat:
Total Mixed Ration=
- 50 lbs of silage
- 10 lbs of dry hay
- 20 lbs of corn
- 10 lbs of vitamins and minerals
- 25-50 gallons of water (That's like a bathtub full!)
This is 90 lbs of feed!! That equals 480 hamburgers! In comparison, the average American eats about 4 lbs of food a day.
A 4-Part Stomach
Cows have a unique digestive system:
; Cows swallow food quickly without chewing it well.
; The food goes into the first and second stomachs- the rumen and the
; When the cow has eaten her fill, she burps up a small amount of food-
cud- to chew again.
; After chewing her cud thoroughly, she swallows it and it goes into the
3rd stomach- the omasum.
; From there it moves on to the 4th stomach- the abomasum- where
digestion actually occurs.
; Cows spend 6-7 hours a day eating.
; A cow's body uses part of the food to grow and stay healthy. Her body
uses another part of the food to make milk in the udder. ; It takes the cow's body about 2 days to process her food into milk.
Circle of Life
Now that you know how much a cow eats you can just imagine how much manure one cow can make! One cow can produce about 80 pounds of maure per day. This is OK with us at Swisslane Farms because we can use all that maure to help us grow feed for our cows. We use all that maure from the cows to fertilize our corn, hay and soy beans that will one day be food for our cows!
Many of the bigger farms in the US are also able to turn manure into electricity with Methane Digesters. This is a big benefit to the environment. Swisslane has applied for a grant to purchase a Methane Digester.
Cows as Milk Producers
Cows have been called "the foster mothers of the earth."
; All cows are female. Like humans, they cannot produce milk until they
; Cows usually have their first calf when they are 2 years old. The
gestation time for a calf is 9 months. 95% of the pregnancies result in
; Cows are usually milked for 305 days (10 months) after giving birth. ; Then they are allowed to "dry off" for about 2 months until their next calf
; To dry off a cow, the farmer stops milking her. This gives her body the
cue to stop producing more milk.
; Most cows are milked for about 5 or 6 years.
The cows on Swisslane Dairy produce an average of about:
; 40 pounds of milk in one milking.
; 80 pounds of milk per day.
; 26,000 pounds of milk per year.
Cows that eat only grass produce only give 26 pounds of milk per day. So you can see, good nutrition pays off for cows as well as people!
Cows respond best to patient, kind handling and regular, routine procedures. All of the 1,100 cows at Swisslane are milked 2 or 3 times a day. Cows enjoy being milked- they are uncomfortable when their udder is too full. First, the cows udder and teats are washed before she is milked. This is done to:
; Keep the milk clean.
; Send a signal to her brain to "let down" the milk. Then a milker is
attached to the cow's 4 teats.
; The milker doesn't hurt the cow.
; The vacuum of the milker gently squeezes out the milk- similar to the
sucking calf or a baby sucking its thumb.
(On the tour you will be able to feel the milker suck on your hand!) ; It takes about 5 minutes to milk a cow.
; Swisslane uses computers to keep track of how much milk a cow
produces at each milking.
; The first milker machine was patented in 1894. With milkers farmers
can milk about 100 cows an hour.
; Before then, cows were milked by hand. A farmer could milk about 6
cows an hour by hand.
Once outside the cow, milk is never exposed to air because it has no protection from contaminants. That is why clean equipment and sanitation are so important.
; Sanitized pipelines carry milk straight from the cow and milker to the
; Milk is never touched by human hands.
; Milk comes out of the cow warm- at the cows body temperature. ; It is quickly cooled in refridgerated storage tanks to 45º F or cooler to
keep it fresh and good tasting.
; Milk is stored in the refridgerated tank until the milk truck comes. ; Milk trucks come to Swisslane 2 times a day to pick up the milk. ; Milk is pumped into the insulated milk truck- which is like a giant
refridgerator on wheels.
; The milk truck keeps milk fresh and cold on its way to the dairy
processing plant. (Right now the milk from Swisslane cows goes to
Bareman Dairy in Holland, MI.)
At the Processing Plant
Milk samples are first tested in the lab to ensure that only the purest milk is used. Milk that isn't top quality or that hasn't been kept cold enough is not processed for people to drink.
; The milk is then homogenized to break the butterfat particles into tiny,
; Homogenizing ensures that the butterfat particles are uniformly
distributed throughout the milk.
; When milk is not homogenized, the cream rises to the top. So you would
have to shake or stir the milk before serving.
; In 1856, Louis Pasteur, from France, discovered that heating liquids to
high temperatures kills bacteria.
; Today, milk is pasteurized by quickly heating it to 161º F for 15 seconds
and then rapidly cooling it.
; Pasteurization protects the purity and flavor of milk without affecting its
Milk is made into a variety of products:
; White and chocolate milk
; Cottage cheese
; Ice cream and frozen yogurt
; Cream, sour cream, and whipped cream
At the Grocery
It takes about 2 days from the time milk leaves the cow until the time it reaches the grocery store. At the grocery store, milk is kept refridgerated at 40º F or lower.
Handling Milk at Home
Consumers can help keep milk pure and safe by following the 3 C's: Keep milk clean.
Keep milk covered.
Keep milk cold.
; Store milk in its own container or in a clean pitcher. Do not touch the
pouring lip of the container.
; Keep milk container covered or resealed when done pouring. Milk
quickly picks up the flavors of other foods in the refridgerator. ; Because milk is perishable, it must be refridgerated at 40 F or colder.
Store milk in the coldest part of your refridgerator.
What Milk Does for You
One delicious cup of ice cold milk provides:
% Daily Value
for strong bones and teeth
for healthy skin
to build strong muscles
10% vitamin A
for night vision
*Students age 6 to 10 need at least 3 servings of dairy each day to get the nutrients they need.
Setting the Stage
Arouse students' interest in the topic with a technique such as: ; Passing around several milk containers. Discuss the different packages
and types of milk.
; Do a Taste Test. See if students can recognize different flavors (plain,
chocolate, vanilla, stawberry) or different milk fat contents (Cream,
Whole, 2%, 1/2%, Fat-Free).
; Conducting a brainstorm listing of all the information students know
about milk and/or cows.
; Asking a series of questions including:
What is a dairy food?
What dairy foods do you eat regularly?
What is your favorite dairy food?
; Preteaching any unfamiliar vocowbulary.
; List some of the interesting cow facts from the teacher guide. Work with
students to come up with real-life examples to make these abstract
concepts more concrete. For example:
-A cow weighs 1400 pounds. That's equal to 28 children who weigh
50 pounds each.
-A cow spends 6-7 hours a day eating. That's the same length of
time as a school day.
-It takes 2 days for the cow's body to turn feed into milk. It takes
another 2 days for the milk to get from the cow to the grocery. Hay
that is eaten on Friday becomes milk by Sunday and is in a carton
at the grocery by Tuesday.
Milk Carton Math
Collect empty milk cartons and jugs in a variety of sizes. Fill some of the
containers with water. Have students transfer the liquid to other milk cartons to determine how many pints are in a quart, quarts in a half-gallon, etc..
No two Holsteins (not even twins) have the same pattern of spots- just as no two people have the same fingerprints. Have your class create their own unique Holsteins.
Make an outline of a cow on white paper. Use black paint and their thumb and have students create a Holstein pattern on the cow outline.
1/2 cup whipping cream
Pour room temperature whipping cream into a clean plastic jar. Screw the lid on tightly. Have students take turn shaking the jar vigorously. (You may want to turn on some lively music for inspiration.)
After about 10 minutes, yellow clumps will form as the butterfat particles stick together. Pour off the liquid (buttermilk). Rinse the butter with cold water. Add a little salt, if you like. Serve on crackers.
Dairy Delicious Ice Cream
Show students how liquids can change into solids by making ice cream in the classroom!
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. salt
1 pint-size zip-type plastic bag
1 gallon-size zip-type plastic bag
Fill the gallon-size bag half full of ice. Add the salt. Seal the bag. Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the pint-size bag. Seal it. Place the pint-size bag
inside the gallon-size bag and seal again carefully.
Shake until mixture is ice cream, about 5 minutes. Wipe off top of pint-size bag. Then open carefully and enjoy!
Field Trip Tips
Before the Trip...
; Gather books about dairy farming, farm life, dairy processing, and dairy
products for your class.
; Have students hypothesize what they will see on the field trip. Help
them generate a list of questions they'd like to have answered. Assign
different questions to different students.
; Do one or more of the following activities with your class:
Some children are surprised on their first visit to a dairy farm. So, it's a good idea to prepare students for the smells of the farm and the size of the cows. Think of other things or animals with unpleasant odor and explain that farms sometimes smell bad too.
Explain that cows are over 5 feet tall. Measure that height on the wall. Have students compare their own height to it. Identify other objects that are similar in height.
3- Dimensional Name Tags
Have your class prepare 3-D nametags to wear on the field trip. This way everyone can see at a glance that your students belong with your group. Using empty yogurt containers or Styrofoam cups, make the nametag in the shape of a cowbell. (All the cows at Swisslane wear blue necklaces!)
After the Trip
; Have students discuss what they saw and what they liked. Look over
any items you brought back from the trip. Ask your class to compare any
books or posters to what they actually saw.
; Work with students to make an experience chart about the trip.