STRASBURG – Chocolate milk does not come from brown cows, and only female cows can produce milk.

Those were just a few of the answers to life’s persistent questions that Signal Knob Middle School students heard Monday morning.

“What color is the milk?” asked LaVaun Janney, an instructor for a Southland Dairy Farmers mobile dairy exhibit, as she pointed to a glass bottle that contained milk from Violet, a Jersey cow.

“White,” the kids shouted.

“What color is Miss Violet?” Janney asked.

“Brown,” students replied.

“Does a brown cow make brown milk?” Janney asked.

“No,” they replied.

“Believe it or not, some adults believe brown cows make chocolate milk,” Janney said.

Janney and Violet were at Signal Knob on Monday morning. The two see about 2,000 kids a week, including in areas (such as Richmond) where students have not seen a cow, Janney said.

The dairy presentation is free to any school by contacting Southland Dairy Farmers, Janney said.

The talk shared with students the importance of dairy products for their vitamins, minerals, and protein. It also educated them on the food to table path as Janney talked about getting milk from the farm to processing plants that convert some of it into additional dairy products for later sale in stores.

Janney milked Violet for the children so they could see one step in the process

Violet will produce 6 gallons of milk every day, eating 70 pounds of food a day and drinking a bathtub of water a day to do so.

“Farmers gather up the manure and use it as fertilizer. On larger farms, they use methane digester to produce power,” Janney told the kids. “Dairy farmers work hard to have a positive impact on the environment.”

Seventh-grade student Jake Curry, 13, was one of the students at the presentation.

“This was my first time seeing a cow milked. It was cool,” Curry said afterward.

Seventh-grader Sam Spade learned a few things from Janney.

“I did not know cows don’t have front teeth,” Spade said.

Jaclyn Ryan, agriculture teacher at Signal Knob, was instrumental in bringing the dairy exhibit to the school. She opened it up to all students who had permission from their other teachers to attend.  

“A lot of our kids do not come from farms. It’s important for them to know where their food comes from and to have an appreciation for farmers,” said Ryan said.

Contact Melissa Topey at