Some might think that feeding milk to a calf couldn't be all that hard. But ask state Sen. Jim Tracy.
"Easy, easy," the Shelbyville Republican said as he attempted to steady a hungry, month-old Holstein named Raven. "Go baby go. That's good stuff, man, come on."
With some coaching from East Tennessee Senator Frank Niceley, a cattleman, Tracy was up to the task. It took Raven about five minutes to drain a two-quart bottle of enriched formula, giving the Senate a victory over their House counterparts in the state legislature's annual Ag Day competition. Their prize was a gold-colored bottle.
Calf-feeding was a new twist. Past years have seen the House and Senate speakers square off in a milking contest and teams compete to shuck the most corn.
More than three dozen organizations took part in this year's Ag Day, including college agriculture programs, conservation groups and an association of beekeepers. A pair of goats and a sheep joined the calves outside Legislative Plaza's front entrance, as scores of farmers and agribusiness supporters lined the hallways.
The state estimates farms generate about $70 billion a year in economic activity.