Elementary students learn about dairy from 'mooving' classroom

WINDER - Sam Darling, 6, learned Friday that cows have only one udder, not four, when the Mobile Dairy Classroom visited Holsenbeck Elementary School.

The event was held in conjunction with Holsenbeck's Career Day and was sponsored by the Barrow County Farm Bureau Women's Committee. Students learned about reptiles, birds of prey and other animals, as well as Hazel the cow, through live demonstrations.

Andi Branstetter and Hazel showed the groups of students how to milk a cow by hand as well as by machine. Students learned how the milk is processed, the efforts to clean the cow before and after milking and how milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy foods fit into a balanced diet.

Hazel was on loan from the University of Georgia's agricultural program. Branstetter travels all over Georgia with the mobile classroom using a selection of about 20 cows in different locations across the state.

"Hazel is perfect for this because she is friendly and well-mannered," Branstetter said. "She doesn't kick or beat me with her tail. She's really easy to milk, too."

Cows give about 6 gallons of milk per day. A milking machine can extract those gallons in a few minutes, as opposed to the 30 minutes or more it takes to milk a cow by hand.

Branstetter has operated the Mobile Dairy Classroom for about four years. She grew up on a dairy farm in Kentucky and holds a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky. Gwinnett folks might remember Branstetter from having judged the dairy heifer show at the Gwinnett County Fair.

The Mobile Dairy Classroom will appear at Statham Elementary School in March.

"She is in such demand that if we can get her in two schools a year we are doing good," said Linda Crumley, Women's Committee Chairwoman.