Lingokids: Growinโ€™ Up - Professions & Jobs for Kids

How to Become a Farmer and Keep Cows Happy

December 23, 2022 Host: Emily Calandrelli. Guest: Annaliese Wegner. Story by Sabrina Walasek. Sound Design: Juan Delgado. Season 1 Episode 17
Lingokids: Growinโ€™ Up - Professions & Jobs for Kids
How to Become a Farmer and Keep Cows Happy
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever thought, 'I want to be a farmer when I grow up?' We're puttin' on our overalls and heading to a dairy farm in Wisconsin to meet a real farmer ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŒพ! Annaliese Wegner, a farm mom and a second-generation farmer, tells us why it's important to milk cows regularly, how a cow can become her favorite ๐Ÿ˜‰, and why farming is the best job in the world. Join us as our host Emily Calandrelli takes us to greener pastures! ๐Ÿ„
Discover fun activities and songs that will teach your child all about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in the Lingokids app! ๐Ÿ’™

All: Lingokids.

Speaker 2: When I grow up, I want to be a farmer.

Emily: What does being a farmer mean to you?

Speaker 2: Getting up with the sun and the roosters.

Emily: And milking cows. Are you ready to make farming your superpower?

All: Yes.

Emily: Last episode, we met Dr. Michael Lazarus, a veterinarian who keeps animals healthy. Today, we're putting on our overalls and boots and headed across the pasture. Oh, and watch out for the cow patty.

All: Ew.

Emily: Don't panic. It's organic.


Emily: Have you ever milked a cow? If you've ever dreamed of being a farmer, or just love ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. You won't want to miss this episode. Today, we're going to meet a real dairy farmer.


Growing up. Growing up.

Emily: Got milk? If you're a baby mammal, the answer is yes. It comes from mama mammals, right?

All: Of course.

Emily: Eventually, baby mammals grow up and their bodies change. They stop needing milk and they switch to other food.

Speaker 3: I still drink milk, cow's milk.

Speaker 2: Not me. It gives me a tummy ache.

Emily: That's an interesting story that begins about 8,000 years ago in Africa. You see, early farmers herded cows, sheep, or goats for meat. Then over hundreds of years, farmers learned to make basic yogurt and cheese from the milk. Their bodies could digest those but drinking the milk upset their stomachs.


However, scientists discovered bones from 6,000 years ago that proved humans were drinking milk. Slowly, humans became milk drinkers. Of course, some still have problems with dairy today.

Speaker 2: Like me. Why did they want to drink milk?

Emily: Good question. Imagine you're a goat farmer in Africa. Water and edible plants might be hard to find.

Speaker 3: So the goats were like a walking grocery store.

Emily: [chuckles] You got it. Today, milk is still one way for our bodies to get calcium, vitamin D, protein, and B vitamins. We get most of our dairy from cows, but some cultures rely more on goat or sheep's milk. What's your favorite dairy product?

Speaker 3: Definitely chocolate milk.

Speaker 2: I love strawberry-frozen yogurt.

Emily: Excellent choices. Honestly, I love it all; butter, sour cream, ice cream, kefir, cream cheese, and any kind of cheese.

Speaker 3: This is making me hungry. It's almost noon.

Emily: What did the cow say to its hungry calf? It's pasture lunchtime. Get it? Pasture, past your? [chuckles]

Speaker 2: How about a song?

Emily: Oh, do you want some cow moosic? Ready?

Old MacDonald had a farm

Ee i ee i o

And on his farm he had some cows

Ee i ee i oh

With a moo-moo here

And a moo-moo there

Here a moo, there a moo

Everywhere a moo-moo

Old MacDonald had a farm

Ee i ee i o


Emily: We're on a dairy farm. That's why there's so much poo in this field. They're moved to different pastures to get exercise and do what cows do best, graze on grass. A cow chews grass or feed to moisten it. When she swallows, it goes to the first of four sections of her stomach. Here, bacteria softens it more into what's called the cud. The cud is sent back to the cow's mouth. She re-chews it and sends it back down into her stomach to be digested.

Speaker 2: That's gross.

Emily: Hey, a herd is heading into the milking barn. Want to get closer?

Speaker 3: Sure. Maybe we can taste some milk.

Speaker 2: There's a lot of them.

Emily: Want to know how to count cows?

Speaker 2: Oh no, another joke.

Emily: With a cowculator. [chuckles]

Speaker 2: How can a dairy farmer milk so many cows?

Emily: They have machines that hold the udders to extract the milk. The farmer's job is to make sure the udders are clean and the machine is properly fitted onto them. Each cow was milked for 5 to 10 minutes, two to three times a day. The cows are in the barn. Shall we stroll through for a look? Put in these earplugs. It can get noisy. Each cow has enough room to stand for milking or lie down to chew her cud. See how the farmer connects the machines to the cows' udders?

Speaker 2: Yes, the cow doesn't even notice.

Speaker 3: Do farmers go to school to learn how to milk?

Emily: Some learn by growing up on a family farm. Still, most go to college to learn more about dairy science, animal science, and agriculture.

Speaker 2: The farmer is waving for us to follow her.

Emily: Are you ready to meet a real farmer?

All: Yes.


Emily: Look at the sign. Wegnerlann Dairy Farm and the farmer's name is Annaliese Wagner. Let's go. Hi there, Annaliese. I'm with Lingokids, and we want to find out what it takes to be a dairy farmer. Can we ask some questions?

Annaliese: Yes, of course.

Emily: Is it true that you're a second-generation farmer and you farm with your husband?

Annaliese: Yes. I was born and raised on a dairy farm. I grew up on my parents' dairy farm with my two younger sisters. From a very young age, I was feeding calves with my grandma, working with my dad, and learning everything I could.

Emily: Then we are asking the right person. Can you tell us three skills needed to be a dairy farmer?

Annaliese: I think to be a dairy farmer, you need to be hardworking, have an understanding and love for animals, and to be patient. At the end of the day, it's all about making those animals happy so that you can be a successful farmer. If your animals aren't happy, then you're not doing a good job.

Speaker 3: How can you tell if the animal is happy?

Annaliese: There's a few different ways you can tell. Obviously, if the animal is comfortable, if they're laying down, cows tend to chew their cud. That's usually a sign that a cow is happy and content and cared for. Also, if they're producing milk well, that's usually a sign that they're well fed, that they're comfortable, they're happy, they're cool. There's a lot of different indicators we can visually see by looking at a cow that usually tells us they're happy.

Emily: Really interesting, Annaliese. We also received some excellent questions from our Lingokids listeners.


Speaker 3: Annaliese, do your cows have names?

Annaliese: This is a great question. On our farm, we have a lot of cows. Every farm is different. They come in many shapes and sizes. On our farm, we have 600 cows, so it is hard to name every single cow. However, we do have our favorites, and we name those. Every cow on our farm does receive an identification number so that we can keep track of her and her family and everything that happens to her.

Speaker 2: How do they become favorites?

Annaliese: [chuckles] The favorites are usually the ones that are more friendly. They might come up and lick you, do funny things like try to open a gate, or throw feet around. They have funny characteristics.

Speaker 2: How does a cow keep making milk?

Annaliese: Good question. In order for a cow to make milk, she has to have a baby. Once she has a baby, she starts producing milk. The cool thing about dairy cows is that they are able to make a lot of milk, enough milk for their calf and for you and I.

Speaker 3: Oh, baby calves. Do they feed from the bottle like normal babies? I saw it in many films.

Annaliese: I guess that's true. When a calf is first born, they do drink out of a giant bottle, I'd say. It's not the same size as a baby bottle, but it looks the same. It's just much larger.

Speaker 2: Do you need to milk them every day?

Annaliese: Yes. Most farms milk their cows two to three times a day, so milking cows is important, and milking them regularly and on schedule is important. If any of you know what it's like to have a very full bladder, you know that it's not comfortable. The same is true of cows. When their udder is really full of milk, they're uncomfortable. They want to get that out. That's why we milk them two to three times a day so that they can get that out, be comfortable. Other things that can happen if you don't milk a cow regularly is they could get sick, so having a good routine ensures that the cow is happy and that we're producing safe, healthy milk.

Speaker 3: What's the best thing about being a dairy farmer?

Annaliese: I think that it's more than a job. It's a way of life. I love that I get to be outside every day. I love that I get to work with my family every day. There's very few jobs that allow you to be outside and work alongside your family.

Speaker 2: It was like that for me during the lockdown because my parents worked from home.

Speaker 3: I remember it too. Oh, this smells. Annalise, doesn't it stink to you?

Annalise: I think everyone probably has their own opinion on that. To me, it smells like fresh air because I'm used to the smell of animals and manure but to someone who's not on a farm, it probably smells terrible.



Emily: Annalise, what can kids do now while they're still growing up to become a dairy farmer?

Annalise: There's different programs like 4-H or FFA that allow you to learn a lot about dairy cattle. You can even show dairy cattle at your fair. There's different projects you can do [unintelligible 00:11:02] I'd also recommend reading books or if you know there's a farm near you, take a tour, go talk to that farmer, do whatever you can to absorb and learn about dairy cows.

Emily: What about visiting the actual farm? Do you get visitors to your farm?

Annalise: We do have different school groups that will come out and tour the farm. We really do love showing people what it is we do and connecting them to their dairy products. I think it's just fun to see kids excited about farming and being outside and taking care of something and wanting to do hard work or connecting that this cow and this farm family is what produced their ice cream or their cheese or their favorite dairy products.

Emily: Thank you, Annalise. I'm sure you've got our listeners really excited about dairy farming.


We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Growin' Up Podcast. Even if you never plan to be a dairy farmer, it's good to know who your local dairy producers are and ask them about their farms. You can usually meet them at your local markets and find out more about life on the farm. Next time we'll meet in real inventor.

Speaker 2: To live a full interactive learning adventure, check out our Lingokids app with tons of games and activities for endless fun.


It's so fun to learn what you can be

growing up, growing up

so come and join us.

Come everyone

so we can learn while having lots of fun

because it's so fun to learn what you can be.

Yes, it's so fun to learn what you can be.

Growing up, growing up, growing up.

All: Lingokids.

[00:12:58] [END OF AUDIO]