Pre-school is a time for fun and adventurous learning. It’s a time when youngsters prepare for kindergarten through interactive learning.
This past Wednesday students at Sunnyside’s United Methodist Pre-school had an opportunity to engage in the world around them, venturing out to J&K Dairy.
On the dairy, the students had an opportunity to see newborn calves to fully grown milking cows.
Jason and Karen Sheehan own the dairy, which was recently turned over to them by Tony and Brenda Veiga.
The Sheehans showed the pre-school students the maternity pens and nursery.
The young pre-school students were in awe over a newborn calf that was delivered Wednesday morning.
“This is Mr. Henry,” said Mr. Sheehan, introducing the calf that was named after one of the pre-school assistants.
“He’s so cute,” could be heard from the mouths of babes.
Another calf was found wandering outside its shelter.
“I hope it’s okay...it looks scared,” little voices murmured.
The tikes next had an opportunity to pet calves that were due for a feeding. The calves were just as curious as the little people.
“Ew…it’s slimy,” a little voice cried after being licked.
Mrs. Sheehan said the Holstein herd is kept in different pens, typically segregating the animals by age.
“They are social creatures and don’t like a lot of change,” she said, explaining that the animals become familiar with one another when they are young.
Mr. Sheehan and the couple’s son, Andrew, showed the pre-school students the bottles used for calves not yet weaned from milk.
Approximately 300 bottles are prepared twice daily to care for the calves, according to Mr. Sheehan.
“We have two nannies, but we call them herdsmen,” he told the youngsters.
He said the newborn calves are fed one gallon of colostrums to build up antibodies before they are fed pasteurized milk.
The milk parlor impressed the little ones, too. The youngsters stared in awe as they watched the milking cows walk into the stalls for a milking.
Mr. Sheehan said the cows are milked three times daily. Each cow has an electronic tag on its ear that is read by a computer as it enters the parlor. The cow is assigned a stall and the computer monitors the volume of milk extracted from the cow.
One cow produced more than 46 pounds of milk in one milking.
“That’s nearly 150 pounds of milk a day,” said Mrs. Sheehan.
Mr. Sheehan, while showing the youngsters the storage tanks, said two semi loads of milk leave the dairy’s East Edison Road farm each day.
He said the milk is tested at the dairy and at least three more times before it is bottled. The milk is bottled within 24 hours from the time it leaves the cow.
“We treat the cows very well,” said Sheehan, stating a veterinarian visits the dairy weekly and a nutritionist visits every two weeks to make sure the herd is being fed a proper diet.
The youngsters, naturally, ended the day with milk and cookies.
‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email JMcGhan@DailySunNews.com