COWS WEAR number plates. That was the message taken home by one Paynesville primary school student after his group participated in Dairy Australia’s Picasso cows program.
His knowledge is the fault of the dairy farmer involved, who gave this response when the child asked about the numbered eartags worn by each cow.
The Prep students were left with strong memories after touring the dairy farm as part of learning about where milk comes from and what it can be made into.
The tour was organised by Bruthen dairy farmer Ingrid Jennings and Prep teacher Kate Radford.
Ms Jennings organised the fibreglass cow, named ‘Moo Moo’ by the children, and Ms Radford developed the learning module, which included the farm tour, a film, books and an art project in collaboration with another teacher.
The students also submitted a project about their learnings to Dairy Australia for assessment. They scored highly, receiving 18 out of 20 points for decorating the cow and 17.5 out of 20 points for demonstrating their learning in a journal.
“Moo Moo’s design is creative, original and very age appropriate for a Prep class [showing] strong evidence of research and understanding the theme,” the report stated.
Among the activities, as well as visiting a dairy farm, the students tasted a range of dairy products and chose how they would decorate Moo Moo.
They covered Moo Moo in bright colours and painted cows, ice-cream, cake, glasses of milk and other pictures across the body. There were many depictions of udders.
None of the children were familiar with dairy farmers before they began learning about dairy.
Interviewing the children for Dairy News Australia, they showed differences in what engaged with them. For some of the students, it was cats and calves, for others it was the smell, the tractor, or watching the cows being milked.
“We saw a cow get milked by machines, it was fun watching,” Jett said.
“I think the milking cows are like school. They are in pens like a classroom,” Iley said.
“We talked about the dead cows go to Maccas for meat for the burgers,” said Slater, who was still overawed by two calves that licked his hands.
“I like the little tiny cows [calves] and the cats,” Milly said. “And now we’re reading and looking at books about how the cows are milked, the milk goes in trucks to the shops, the people buy the milk, and bring it home.”
“Seeing Moo Moo now I think about cows being milked,” Ziya said.
The visit to the dairy farm was not without humour either. Apart from calves licking their hands, the children saw a cow try to enter the school bus.
“But the door was too small, the cow could not go in,” Milly said.
The Picasso Cows program has been teaching primary school students about the Australian dairy industry for more than 10 years. The school receives a life-size fibreglass cow to decorate, while learning about dairy products, health and nutrition benefits of dairy food, farming practices and manufacturing processes.
Dairy Australia has designed a suite of supporting learning modules, with the themes of Farm to Plate and Health and Nutrition.
According to a Dairy Australia spokesperson, the program has reached more than 1000 schools.
Dairy Australia has developed a range of videos to support the children’s learning activities.