An udderly amazing farm

    New member of the herd.

    South of Phoenix, outside of the small community of Maricopa, is a magical place. It’s a place where family members have worked for generations to create one of the largest family-owned and operated dairies in the United States. Welcome to Shamrock Farms.

    Life-size cows in the Welcome Center Barn.

    We ambled down south on a Saturday morning to take their farm tour. The tour starts in the Welcome Center Barn, where you can read about the history of the farm and see displays of how the products and packaging have changed throughout the years. When you hear the cowbell ring, it is time to board the tram that takes you into the working farm.

    Now “clean” and “cows” don’t usually go together, but this farm is the exception! The cows get washed before each milking (twice a day) and the pasture gets cleaned out twice a day. That’s quite a feat when you realize there are more than 10,000 cows! The cows are also kept in areas where there are misters and fans, lots of rooms and fed a diet rich in variety and nutrients. This place must be like heaven if you’re a cow! The cows actually look happy when you drive past them (maybe it’s those big brown eyes).

    Solvay and I pose in the giant cottage cheese container!

    The train stops at a playground (Roxie’s Outdoor Adventure) with over-sized dairy containers to play in and then you get to enter an observation area and watch where the cows get milked. They walk in line and go exactly to where they need to be, as if workers at a factory line job. When they are finished, the next group comes up, and the cycle repeats itself until all the cows are milked, and then they’ll do it all over again. Then you get to view a short “moovie” about what happens when the milk leaves the dairy and goes to the processing plant in Phoenix. The amazing thing is that from the time the milk leaves the cow and the time the product gets to the grocery store is only about 36 hours!

    Where the cows are milked twice a day.
    Babies in their "cribs."

    One of the best parts of the tour is seeing the baby cows. They are actually kept in “cribs” — metal versions of them! Their breeding is carefully controlled and no outside cows are introduced to keep the herd healthy. They even have some descendants of the original cows that started on the farm. The tram stops at a grouping of these cribs and you get to don a plastic glove and pet a baby cow. Ours was a little shy!

    Trying to pet a calf.

    The tour ends where it started at the barn and everyone is treated to a free bottle of milk. Evan and I chose the chocolate and Solvay the strawberry (her favorite!) I swear milk has never tasted so good! Maybe it was my new appreciation for the hard work and care that goes into every product that Shamrock produces!