Teachers took the sidelines at Bohn Elementary School on Friday to make room for Leona, a Brown Swiss 1,600-pound dairy cow.
The 2-year-old cow and a calf, Kendell, made their way to the school in a mobile dairy classroom from a dairy farm in Modesto. The educational program on wheels, paid for by the Dairy Council of California, takes dairy cows to elementary schools up and down the Central Valley.
Instructor Heston Nunes, decked out in farm gear, told the students a dairy cow is milked twice a day using a milking claw. From milk, he added, dairies make cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
The students responded in horror when Nunes told them that Leona has one stomach with four compartments and regurgitates her food to chew it twice.
Eight-year-old Elias Amos laughed when he saw Leona chew alfalfa from side to side. He admits all he knew about cows before Friday was that they are furry and fat.
Very little surprised third-grader Alyssa Quilici. She said she knows a lot about cows.
“I see them on the hills when we drive on the freeway and in the country,” she said. “They really stink out there.”
Most of the students agreed that the most exciting part of the demonstration was when they had the chance to pet the calf.
“Most of these kids have never been to a farm,” fourth-grade teacher Kathy Leles said. “This is a phenomenal idea. Now they can make the connection about where some of their food comes from.”
Nunes, who grew up on a farm and judges livestock competitions, gives a presentation a day at elementary schools in the Modesto, Sacramento and Stockton areas.
“The more educated people are, the better consumers they’ll be,” he said. “It’s important for kids to know that milk comes from a working cow, not a carton.”