California Agriculture in the Classroom

Cowabunga! All About Dairy Breeds

Grade Level(s)

3 - 5

Estimated Time

Three 40-minute sessions

Purpose

In this lesson, students will understand breed characteristics and countries of origin for five different breeds of dairy cattle. Students will discover why dairy farmers choose individual breeds for specific purposes.

Materials

For each group:

For each student:

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Essential Links

Vocabulary

breed: a group of animals within a species that have a distinctive appearance and characteristics

dairy farmer: a career devoted to rearing cattle to produce milk for human consumption

Background - Agricultural Connections

This lesson is part of a series called, Milk Matters: Discovering Dairy. These lessons introduce students to the history, production, nutritional value and economic significance of the dairy industry. Other related lessons include:

Dairy farms produce milk and are found throughout the United States. California is the nation’s leading dairy state in the nation. Dairy farmers provide a diverse selection of high quality and nutritious dairy products that place the state among the top dairy regions of the world. In this lesson, students will discover there are five breeds of dairy cows. Jersey, Holstein, Brown Swiss, Guernsey and Ayrshire are all breeds used for milk production. Each breed has its own unique country of origin, physical attributes and production traits.

More background information on the Dairy Industry can be found here.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Ask students to brainstorm ideas of why cattle are important. Students may offer ideas such as providing milk and meat for our diets.
  2. Ask students, "How long have cattle been domesticated?" If necessary, describe and define domestication.  Cattle have been domesticated for thousands of years. Even ancient hieroglyphics depict cattle as a part of early ancient civilizations.
  3. In this lesson, students will:
    • differentiate between different dairy breeds; and
    • create a map to illustrate the origin of five popular dairy breeds.

Procedures

Activity 1: Moos News

  1. Brainstorming. Write the word “Holstein” on the board. Ask students to share their associations, ideas and responses to the word. They can input any related idea, with no criticism allowed. After brainstorming, explain to your students that today they will become experts on not only the Holstein, but also four other popular breeds of dairy cattle.
  2. Divide the class into cooperative learning groups. Each group will consist of five students. Explain to your students that they will be given the Jobs Wanted page from the newspaper Moos News. Each student will be assigned to read an article submitted by one of the five breeds of dairy cattle searching for a job.
  3. Distribute Moos News and Moos News Worksheet. This is a jigsaw activity, where students will need some time to work individually. Once all group members have completed their individual tasks, students will collaborate and share as an entire group. Instruct students to work individually, reading their job listing carefully and completing their section of the graphic organizer on the corresponding worksheet. Collaboratively, they will share their findings using the information recorded on their worksheet and complete the graphic organizer detailing characteristics of popular dairy cattle breeds.
  4. Students will select breeds of dairy cattle to best match the characteristics listed at the bottom of the Moos News Worksheet.
  5. Review the worksheet questions. Have students explain why they chose breeds for specific purposes. Students should be encouraged to look for facts in Moos News to support their opinions.

Activity 2: Geography Pathway

  1. Give each learning group a world map or utilize maps found in class social science textbooks. Use the detailed map on the Cowabunga! worksheet to find specific locations of countries. Given a tear sheet, each group will draw an enlarged version of the world map. Once students have complete the drawing, they will locate and label the following:
      • Each of the seven continents
      • Country of origin for each breed
      • On a separate piece of paper, students draw an accurate picture of his or her designated dairy breed. Use tape to affix each breed near its country of origin.
      • Using colored pencils, students track one possible route on their map for each breed’s arrival to America from its country of origin. Students also create a legend showing what color represents each breed.
  2. Students present their maps to the class, describing each breed and its physical characteristics. Example: “This cow is brown because it is a Brown Swiss dairy cow from Switzerland.”
  3. Review the concepts of longitude and latitude with students. Using the “Cowabunga!” worksheet, students determine the longitude and latitude of each country of origin for dairy breeds. Students find and chart the longitude and latitude for the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, Jersey and Guernsey.
  4. Students work together to create a list of technology that made sea exploration (and the arrival of new dairy breeds) possible.

Activity 3: Ancient Civilizations Pathway

  1. Explain to students that ancient civilizations used cave carvings or hieroglyphics to record history, tell stories or illustrate religious ceremonies. Often these cave carvings depicted a wide variety of cattle. Discuss with your class:
    • What does this tell us about the historical importance of cattle?
    • Why do you think cattle were so important to the ancient Egyptians?
    • How could cattle represent different social classes?
  2. Write the word “domestication” on the board. Give each student a sticky note and instruct them to write a synonym or definition of the word. Students place sticky notes on the board. Choose several creative and accurate responses to share with the class.
  3. Students choose one of the five breeds and create a cave drawing that depicts the breed of cattle at work. What might they be doing? Students write an explanation of their hieroglyphics at the bottom of the page.
  4. Students share their work in groups or present to the class.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities review and summarize the following key concepts:

Variations

Enriching Activities

Suggested Companion Resources

Sources/Credits

This lesson was funded in 2008 by the California Milk Advisory Board and the California Farm Bureau Federation. To meet the needs of California educators, Milk Matters: Discovering Dairy was created to meet the Curriculum Content Standards for California Public Schools. The unit also includes a collection of relevant resources about the dairy industry.

Executive Director: Judy Culbertson
Layout and Design: Imelda Muziom

Author(s)

Mandi Bottoms

Organization Affiliation

California Foundation for Agricultural in the Classroom