Mobile Dairy Classroom Travels Oklahoma to Teach About Dairy Industry

Listen to KC Sheperd talk with Suzie Reece about Oklahoma’s Dairy Industry.

At the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, Farm Director KC Sheperd had the chance to talk with Suzie Reece of Southwest Dairy.

For the first stop of the Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom Bedlam Road trip, Reece had the chance to bring her milk cow, “Snickers,” to ODAFF and provide a demonstration on milking.

“Snickers and I travel the state and teach about the dairy industry,” Reece said. “This program is paid for by dairy farmers that are hard at work on their farms, milking cows so that we have milk and dairy products to purchase at the grocery store.”

Most of the milk consumed by Oklahomans, Reece said, is produced locally.

“There are dairy farms in every state in the United States producing milk for people who live there,” Reece said. “I am representing the dairy farmers here in the state, including Braums, and going to schools and teaching about how dairy farmers are working hard to produce that milk for us to have the luxury of going to the grocery store and purchasing.”

The most frequently asked question Reece said she is asked when traveling is, “Why is your cow so skinny?”

Travelers do not see many dairy cows when driving down the highway in Oklahoma, Reece said, because they do not graze out on pasture, but instead are close to the dairy barn so they can be milked throughout the day.

“These cows naturally stay thin, because they are genetically bred to produce milk instead of putting on the muscle mass and bulk and weight that beef cattle are,” Reece said. “People are often shocked when they see the ribs and the hip bones on a dairy cow, but that is just natural characteristics.”

If a dairy cow has a lot of fat, Reece said that is not desirable because it means they are most likely not doing a great job of producing milk.

“On dairy farms, we control their temperature,” Reece said. “Fans and misters are used on hot summer days, and we put sides on the barns to keep them warm in the winter. We have cleanout systems that clean up after them.”

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