Before milk gets into cartons and the cold case at the grocery store, it is milked from cows like 2-year-old Jersey cow, Allie.
“Y’all see her,” Kayler Campbell asked a room full of young students on a field trip as Allie was led into the Milking Parlor at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. “We’re gonna be talking to you today about the cows.”
Every hour, Campbell and others from Southwest Dairy Farmers lead students through a live demonstration that allows them to watch cows being milked.
“They make about 7 gallons of milk a day,” Campbell said of her Jersey cow. “That’s a lot of milk, isn’t it!”
For some of the students in the stands, it is the first time seeing a cow up close and the first time watching one being milked.
“So it’s important to know where our food comes from,” Campbell said. “And to get good nutrition in our body eating good, healthy foods.”
Texas ranks 5th nationally in dairy production. The heart of the growing industry is in the Texas Panhandle.
“I’ve been managing 11,000 cows in west Texas,” dairy farm manager Justin Burris said. “It’s in your blood. It’s hard to get away from the dairy industry.”
While the number of dairy farms in Texas has declined over the years, the amount of milk produced has increased.
“We know every little thing that cow is eating,” Burris explained. “These cows are machines. They’re not made to make beef. They’re made to produce milk.”
Back at the Milking Parlor, students were wide-eyed, and some close-nosed, fingers pinching their noses. Dairy cows have a distinctive smell. That doesn’t stop the local farm animals from creating an enjoyable drink.
“They make some good milk,” Campbell said.