Kids squealed as Papamoa farmer Andrew McLeod squirted milk straight from a cow into their hands, so they can have a taste.

"It's warm!"

They seem somehow surprised that the milk isn't cold, as they're used to, but then udders don't have in-built refrigerators.

It's the kind of learning experience the annual Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers 'Farm Day' is all about, organisers say.

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Despite the persistent drizzle, 616 visitors made the journey to Andrew and Robyn McLeod's 400-head dairy farm at Welcome Bay on Sunday – the 10th time the event has been held, and the ninth on the couple's property.

The chugging, single cylinder 1950 Lanz Bulldog tractor, brought along by former agricultural contractor Tom Anderson, was a reminder of the changing face of agriculture when parked alongside the eye-wateringly expensive modern farming vehicles. Photo / Supplied
The chugging, single cylinder 1950 Lanz Bulldog tractor, brought along by former agricultural contractor Tom Anderson, was a reminder of the changing face of agriculture when parked alongside the eye-wateringly expensive modern farming vehicles. Photo / Supplied

The count was well short of the highest turnout of more than 1400 in 2013 but the kids and adults who braved the weather – most of them from nearby Tauranga, but also from Te Puke and as far as Gisborne – seemed well pleased with the displays of milking, sheep shearing, butter churning and expensive machinery and gadgets.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

They tossed gumboots, burrowed into hay to find hidden lollies and tucked into ice creams from Fonterra.

The kids (and maybe also adults) also learned stuff.

At the MPI stand they learned detector dogs are being trained to sniff out the dreaded brown marmorated stink bug – understood to be a world-first.

One-and-a-half year-old Rhy Hammond, his mum Michelle from Welcome Bay, and Papamoa youngster Megan Crisp, 5, 'plant' a riparian strip by a waterway, represented by a blue tarpaulin. Photo / Supplied
One-and-a-half year-old Rhy Hammond, his mum Michelle from Welcome Bay, and Papamoa youngster Megan Crisp, 5, 'plant' a riparian strip by a waterway, represented by a blue tarpaulin. Photo / Supplied

At the Ballance fertiliser tent, after over-coming initial giggles that test soil cores looked remarkably like dog do, they heard how nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur is vital to crop and pasture growth – and how fertiliser drives some 50 per cent of the world's food production.

Playing DairyNZ's 'Rosie the Cow Bingo', they'd have picked up that cheese has been around for at least 4000 years, why a cow needs four stomachs and how it needs to eat some 70kg of grass a day.

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"It's a big ask to put it all together," Andrew McLeod admits. "We start the planning months out and it really gets busy a couple of days out.

"Normally we have around 60 volunteers – and we need all of them. It's a pretty full-on day."

Mt Maunganui's Lila McKenzie, 7, and her sisters, check out the seed hopper on a direct drill unit on the back of a farm tractor. Photo / Supplied
Mt Maunganui's Lila McKenzie, 7, and her sisters, check out the seed hopper on a direct drill unit on the back of a farm tractor. Photo / Supplied

But the effort is worth it, he adds.

"We get terrific feedback. It's great to see how happy the kids are and to hear the adults say they have a better understanding."

Tourists from Korea, Germany, China and the USA also squelched around in the farmyard mud on Sunday, and in the past the event has drawn cruise ship passengers.