Students get a glimpse of farm life
POCAHONTAS — A combined effort of two cattle operations allowed Pocahontas Area Community sixth-graders to take their classroom to the farm Monday.
Bailey Vainreb, of Pocahontas, and Dutchland Dairy, of Rolfe, welcomed the students to their operations to help raise awareness of the beef and dairy industries.
Vainreb said this is a good time to host the students, with May being beef month and June dedicated towards dairy month.
“We join together to teach them about the beef industry and the dairy farm and also celebrate the beef and dairy industry,” said Vainreb.
A recent graduate of Pocahontas Area High School, Vainreb started the day with an informational presentation of the beef industry with a question and answer session.
Vainreb’s program included what goes on when the animals make it to the packing plant.
“They travel by truck to a harvesting facility where they become beef, so that’s how they get to the plant,” she said.
When she asked the students what parts of beef cuts there are, shouts of “steaks, hamburger, prime, sirloin” could be heard from the crowd.
“Many of our favorite foods are made with beef,” she said. “Cattle give us roast beef, hamburger, pizza, sloppy Joes, steak, tacos, meatballs and many more foods that I am sure many of you think you can eat with beef.”
Cattle make more than just meat, however.
As an example, Vainreb explained to the students the multiple uses for bones, hooves, blood and glands.
“They are used to make glue, medicines, fertilizer and pet foods,” she said. “Gelatin is made from cattle bones that are crushed and cooked. This is used to make jello, marshmallows, ice cream, yogurt, matches, gummy and chewing gum.”
She also gave examples of what a cow’s hide is used for.
“The cattle hide is made into leather, which is used to make clothing, shoes, sporting goods, gloves and furniture,” she said.
The students also learned that the fat from the cattle is also very useful.
“It’s made into soaps, shampoos, crayons, cosmetics, tires, shaving cream,” she said.
Dave Duitscher, with Dutchland Dairy, enjoys the annual field trip to his farm.
“It’s nice to have them come out,” he said. “It’s nice to show them agriculture because so many are so far from agriculture, this is an opportunity to show them what a cow is and how cows are milked.”
Duitscher said his family’s dairy operation milks 1,300 cows a day with the help of 20 employees.
The average cow on their farm will produce 80 pounds of milk a day, which he said is the equivalent to 9 gallons of milk daily.
“In some cases, they will produce upwards to 15 gallons of milk a day,” he said.
While visiting the milking parlor, Duitscher stressed to the students that they have to keep the milking parlor and other areas of the dairy very clean to ensure they are only selling the best milk, but also to help fight against infection to the cows.
When the milk comes from the cows, it is at a high temperature of 102 degrees. The Duitschers immediately get the milk to the chiller to cool it down to 37 degrees, where it makes its way directly to the tanker trucks to be shipped to Prairie Farms/Swiss Valley, the milk co-op they sell their milk to.
He said the milk is pasteurized at the plant, and eventually, he said, their milk is made used in a variety of cheeses and some kept as milk.
Dutchland Dairy, Duitscher said, will put out two tankers of milk each day, with the exception of Fridays, where they will send three tankers out.
“That’s 12,000 gallons of milk shipped out of here a day,” he said.
The students also had the opportunity to see the bulk feed storage as well as newborn calves.
Duitscher said they will, on average, have four to five calves born a day on their farm.
After the visit to the dairy, the students were provided a cheeseburger lunch from the Pocahontas County beef producers and a tour of the Vainreb farm.
“I think it’s important youths learn about our beef industry while they still can,” said Vainreb. “There are less family farms in Pocahontas County and other counties, so they get this experience. Some have never seen cattle in their life. They get to learn where their cheeseburger comes from.”
The students got to see firsthand how Vainreb runs her operation, which consists of 25 head cow/calves and her 20 breeding heifers.
Vainreb showed the students how a newborn calf gets its first round of vaccinations and its ear tag.
A highlight to the field day was the children guessing how much her heifer, Puff, weighed, with the closest winning a $10 beef certificate.
A wide range of numbers was given, with the final weight being 1,021 pounds.