More than 1,000 elementary school children, many from Salt Lake's inner city, petted cows, goats, sheep and pigs and learned about farm life from farmers and agriculture experts this week.
The event was an "Ag In The Classroom Field Day" at the Bateman Dairy Farm in West Jordan, one of Utah's leading dairy farms for decades.Doug Bateman said the farm has 700 head of Holstein dairy cows and milks 300 cows three times a day. The farm has 100 acres near the Jordan River in West Jordan and also grows alfalfa, corn and barley on 1,200 acres the Batemans lease in Salt Lake County just west of the dairy.
Bateman said hay is becoming a big cash crop. Prime alfalfa hay is currently selling for $100 a ton, and Bateman said the farm sold nearly 500 tons of hay last year and hopes to sell as much this year.
Normally, northern Utah hay growers are lucky to get three good crops of hay a year, but Bateman said his farm had four good crops last year and harvested a fair fifth crop.
"We start earlier than a lot of farms in northern Utah, and we work hard. We feed our cows all day long and milk them three times a day," he said.
His wife, Shar, showed visiting children the huge milk bottle used to nurse calves on the farm and a magnet that each young cow is fed so it can safely attract all the metal objects that cows eat accidently, such as nails and pieces of wire.
She drew a gasp of surprise from all the youths when she showed them the foot-long syringe used to inoculate cows.
Children were able to see a variety of animals at the farm, including rabbits, mink, pigeons, doves, chickens and hatching chicks, goats, pigs and sheep.
A sheep-shearing demonstration was performed by West Jordan and Bingham High School Future Farmers of America chapters; the Soil Conservation Service had a soil display; and the Utah Cattlemen's Association and Utah State University Extension Service had exhibits.