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Princess Kay offers dairy trivia to local students

WORTHINGTON -- When Princess Kay of the Milky Way Rebekah Dammann removed a baby bottle from her black duffle bag -- and then pulled out a bottle a dairy calf drinks from -- students in Jody Madsen's sixth-grade classroom couldn't contain their amazement.

"Whoa," several students said aloud. Other kids giggled and pointed at the size difference.

One student guessed that it would take about four hours for a calf to drink all of the milk in the two-quart plastic bottle. In reality, Dammann answered back that a healthy calf will gulp down the frothy milk in 15 seconds flat.

That information brought even more sounds of amazement from the students, many of whom had no idea where milk came from until the class began a unit on Ben & Jerry's ice cream in recent weeks.

"We were kind of amazed at the number of kids who don't know about dairy operations," Madsen said. "They just think milk comes from the fridge."

Since the unit began, students have taste-tested Ben & Jerry's and Blue Bunny ice cream, made ice cream during a science lab and took part in dairy trivia. Princess Kay's visit on Thursday was meant to prepare students for their field trip in April to a 3,000-head dairy near Le Mars, Iowa, and a stop at the Blue Bunny Visitor's Center in Le Mars.

Dammann, 20, was crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way last August at the Minnesota State Fair. One of her first responsibilities was to pose in a chilly booth while a woman carved her likeness in a 90-pound block of butter.

Dammann, a native of Lester Prairie, shared pictures of her butter head with Worthington Middle School students and spoke of her experiences in the dairy industry.

Born and raised in a family of dairy farmers, Dammann said she went to work on her uncle's 1,500-cow dairy farm as a senior in high school after her parents decided to sell their own dairy herd. She explained to students that a typical cow weighs about 1,400 pounds and eats a diet of corn, corn silage and haylage.

"One cow eats 90 pounds of feed per day," Dammann told the classroom full of students. "That's equal to you eating 480 hamburgers."

Other facts she shared with the students included:

l A calf weighs about 75 pounds at birth.

l A cow's udder can hold between 25 and 50 pounds of milk.

l It takes two days for a cow to turn what it has eaten into milk, and another two days for that milk to be processed, packaged and placed in the grocery store dairy case.

l Cows spend about eight hours per day eating.

l A cow has her first calf at about age 2, and will calve every year.

l A person can milk about six cows per hour by hand, or up to 545 cows per hour using milk machines in a 24-cow parlor.

Dammann's visit to Worthington was organized by the Nobles County Dairy Association and Deb Vander Kooi. The local association has assisted the school with dairy information and ideas in teaching the Ben & Jerry's unit.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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