Friday, February 1, 2008

1/31/08 MOOOOOOO

Day trip for us today! Hooray! We're touring Shamrock Farms.

We left the park around 12:15 and made the half hour trip to the farm. Our tour started at one and there were quite a few of us from our park attending this tag along. This is a state of the art dairy farm with over 10,000 head of cattle.

The first thing one notices when exiting your vehicle is the.....smell. I can't imagine being here at this farm in AUGUST when its over a hundred degrees!

Everywhere you look you see black and white cows. Did you know that a cow's markings are like fingerprints, that no two patterns are alike?

Our tour leader was Roamie and she had us wear green wristbands designating us as the "green herd".

Take notice of the cow in the picture above with the number 13 below it. At 1 p.m. there had been 13 calves born so far today. There is, on average, between 25 and 30 calves born EVERYDAY at Shamrock Farms. At any given time there are approximately 2000 pregnant cows.

When you first walk into the meeting area you see these three cow statues.

The one on the far right was "decorated" by some local school kids.

We were soon asked to board the Cow Tram.
The first thing we passed was the Desert Oasis where the "girls" spend a lot of their time. The signs are difficult to read in this picture but they say:

Desert Oasis
Where Luxorious Spa Treatment Produces Quality Milk

The six smaller signs say:

World Class Services: These cows get the best of everything

Balanced Dining: The cows each drink 25 - 35 of clean water each day, that's about how much goes into your average sized bathtub! Each cow eats approximately 100 pounds of feed each day.

Full Body Care: Each cow is "showered" twice a day and their hooves are closely looked at for splits or other ailments.

Friendly Sisterhood: With all these cows....they have lots of friends!

Climate Enhanced: Since this IS the desert and it gets quite hot, roll down shades are available to keep the hot out and lots of fans are in place. It is kept to a comfortable 78 degrees for their comfort.

Stress Reduction: Their every need is taken into consideration to keep them happy.

The cows on this farm are very well treated. Remember, a happy cow gives a lot of milk. The average Shamrock Farms cow produces 19,825 pounds of milk per year. That equals: 2,305 gallons per year, 8 gallons of milk every day of her milking cycle, or enough milk for 128 people to have one glass each day. That's a lot of milk!

Sights we saw on the way to the next stop.

Under this tarp is the feed.

We were taken to a building where we climbed to the second floor. Here we could look out windows to the floor below and see the cows being milked. Granted, this isn't the best picture but that happens when taking one through glass. The cows in the middle of the picture are leaving, they've been milked already. Look to the far right of the picture, you can see just their heads. These cows are just coming in to be milked. We learned that cows are creatures of habit in that when they get in the "gate", for the lack of the correct term, to be milked they make sure that the cows on either side are the ones who are usually next to them. Truly creatures of habit.

Each cow is milked twice a day, everyday. It takes each cow 5 to 7 minutes to be milked, that's at least 100,000 minutes of milking each day. I bet you didn't know any given time a cow's udder can hold 25 - 50 pounds of milk.

We were then ushered to a sitting area where we sat on bleachers or the floor to watch a mooo-vie.

It showed us how the milk is tested, bottled, shipped and it answered a question I had. I buy Shamrock milk here in Arizona City and I had taken note of the expiration date on the bottles on more than one occasion. For instance, I bought milk the beginning of January and it had an expiration date of March 9th. MARCH! Yes, you read that right. This milk has such a long shelf life because it is ultra pasteurized. Our milk never lasts that long of course but somehow I have my doubts about it being good that long. Trust me, I'm not going to test it!
From here we went to Roxie's playground. Roxie is the mascot for Shamrock Farms. The kids can climb all over this "half" truck. The other side is open and you can see the slide if you look closely.
There is also a maze among other things for the kids to play in.
We were encouraged to insert two fingers in the milking machine shown below. I did it and was surprised at how gentle the "squeeze" was.
We loaded back into the cow tram for our ride back to main building. We made two stops along the way. The first was so that we could see a newborn calf, just 15 minutes old. Look just right of center and you can see it laying on the ground.
While we were stopped in this area another cow had her water break. We watched the other cows gather around her as if to protect her. We had hoped we could stay long enough to watch the birth but that wasn't the case.

Next stop was the nursery. Each calf is isolated for the first 2 months or so of its life. Here it is watched daily and its feed and such is monitored. We watched this one little fella try to eat the curtain. Heck, it wasn't trying, it was eating it!

We finally returned to where we started and were treated to a pint of flavored milk and a dish or cone of ice cream. Shamrock brand of course!

I bet this is more than you ever thought you would know about cows.

Oh yeah, we had CHICKEN for dinner tonite.

No comments: