Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. For Shamrock Farms dairy cows, it’s greener right where they are! Shamrock’s motto is “happy cows produce the best milk,” and getting the chance to tour the dairy farm proved that to be true.
Shamrock Farms dairy products are different from other dairy products because they are guaranteed to stay fresh up to 90 days when unopened and up to seven days after the product’s expiration date. This is due to the unique pasteurization of the Shamrock Farms dairy products and the quick processing time.
I think it’s safe to say that taking the Shamrock Farms dairy tour last weekend really moo-ved me!
The dairy farm, located in Maricopa, south of Phoenix, is located on 1,000 acres of land and is the home to approximately 17,000 cows. The farm doesn’t have an address, so to get there, follow the directions from Shamrock Farms’s website.
We arrived 15 minutes early as recommended and checked in for our tour in the big red barn that is also the gift shop, museum and snack bar where you can get some delicious Shamrock Farms milk or ice cream.
When we heard the cowbell ring (no pun intended), it was time to climb aboard the black and white, cow-spotted tram.
Diane, our tour guide introduced us to the history of Shamrock Farms, which began in Tucson in 1922. She told us how it came to be the leading dairy processor and distributor in the Southwest.
The dairy tram took us around the farm where we stopped by the Desert Oasis that boasts, “World Class Services, Balanced Dining, Full Body Care and Stress Reduction.” The milking cows are kept in this climate enhanced environment and when they are milked, they have a “cleaning service” that rakes and sanitizes the pens.
Then it was off to the milking barn; but first, the tram stopped at Roxie’s play place so visitors could feel how the milking machine feels to the cows, dispelling the myth that it hurts or pinches the cow. Visitors, old and young, climbed in the large tub of cottage cheese, took pictures in front of the large Shamrock Farms milk bottle, or bopped around the over-sized, sour creme punching bags.
From the play place, the tour walked to the milking barn where we watched the dairy farm workers sanitize the milking stations before and after each cow is milked. This twin double barn allows the farm to milk 200 cows at the same time.
In the milking observatory, we were treated to a video that explains what happens to the milk after it is shipped to the I-17 processing plant and how it ends up on your store shelf.
After viewing the milking station, the tram drove us through the Desert Oasis where all the cows are kept and on to the nursery where each tour member donned a plastic glove and got to pet and feed the baby calves that will one day become Shamrock Farms dairy cows. The baby calves were so adorable! They loved the attention lavished on them by the visitors on the tour.
The calves are kept in small, individual pens to protect them from the elements and predators, as well as to allow the dairy farm employees to monitor their health and diet.
The tour also passes (at a distance) the special barn and the free fields where the organic cows graze. Shamrock Farms doesn’t use a growth hormone in any of their cows, so you never have to worry about it passing on to your family whether you buy regular or organic Shamrock Farms products.
The tour finished when the dairy tram stopped next to the red barn, and we were invited to complimentary Shamrock Farms milk. They have the regular flavors of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, but there are also the Dulce de Leche, Café Moocha and even energy-infused milk, Rockin’ Refuel, from which to choose.
We took our time to walk through the museum and view the historic photographs of the beginning of Shamrock Farms and the products it has created over the past 90 years.
The Shamrock Farms belief is to treat their employees like family and their customers like friends.
What to Know Before You Go to Shamrock Farms:
- To go on the dairy tour, you must make a reservation on the Shamrock Farms website.
- Arrive for the tour 15 minutes early to allow enough time to check in.
- Bring your camera and a thirst for locally owned and produced Arizona dairy products.
- Before you leave, stop by the gift shop to get that cow-loving friend something new to add to the collection!
Visit www.shamrockfarms.net for more on Shamrock Farms and its dairy tour and its special Joy to the Herd event the first weekend in December.