My sister visited from New York with her 10 year old granddaughter Emma and we decided that a trip to Maleny Dairies would be a good thing for a 10-year old to see how milk is made – once it leaves the cow. Emma loves animals of any sort from the creepy crawly variety to the big, soft and mooing sort.
We made the tour reservation and wouldn’t you know it, the sky was dark and the rain came down. Not to worry, we’re from Maine and folks in the far northeast of the US are from hardy stock. We need to be as the climate there is very harsh in the winter.
The Hopper family own Maleny Dairies and they’re into their fourth generation. When farmers near and far were getting out of the business because of the low prices the big supermarkets were willing to pay, the Hoppers decided to process their own milk.
It must have been a huge risk to build the infrastructure not knowing if the community would stand behind them but stand we did. One reason of course is to keep local farmers viable and allow them to earn a decent income on their investment. The best reason, for me at least, is the quality of the products. Have you tried their Guernsey cream yet? The first time I tried it was to create a recipe for the Dilmah High Tea Challenge this year and I won a silver medal. I like to think the cream did the trick.
Their cows are Guernsey (originally from one of the Channel Islands) who produce a milk that is high in protein and butterfat. The Hoppers have had Guernseys since 1948 because of the quality of the milk and cream.
Arriving early we can see luscious green pastures with cows dotting the landscape high up in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. Emma was eager to see the baby calves. We were assured that there would be babies and we could feed them.
The tour began with information about the farm, the Hoppers and the animals. After a few warnings about not stepping in poo and no running on concrete we were off to see the factory where the milk goes from the milk truck to the bottle. Before the milk goes anywhere it’s tested to make sure there are no nasties that would affect the quality standards the Hoppers have set.
Everyone on the Sunshine Coast has seen a truck just like this parked outside a store. You can find local stockists of Maleny Dairies products by using their store locator.
We watched a little movie about Maleny Dairies in the Moooovie Theatre too.
Then we were off for the main attraction according to young Emma. First we saw Millie the cow, gave her a brushing and learned how hand milking is done. Notice the milk on the ground? Yep, we all got squirted.
Feeding the calf was great fun according to Emma. They like drinking milk – a lot. So much so that when it’s all gone, they try to suckle your arm or your hand or anything else that’s close by.
Then we visited the chickens, saw the goats and had a tour of the milking room. Milking was done for the morning but we learned how it was done. It was very very clean in there and we all know what a mess cows can make. I assume those shields are there so the cows won’t poo on the workers’ heads. Just the thought of that AND getting up at 4:30am makes me appreciate what a tough job a dairy farm is.
When we were there most of the goats were in the shed because they were just a few days away from giving birth. We didn’t get too close because we didn’t want to upset them. That was the end of the tour and then we got samples of their products. On offer were chocolate milk, strawberry milk, yoghurt and custard. We couldn’t say which was best because we liked it all.
I sure hope this cow had her calf within minutes of us leaving. Poor thing looked so uncomfortable. We were told she was hours away from having her baby. Every woman on the tour understood her predicament!
Maleny Dairies has bbq facilities if you want a picnic at the farm. Kids can run and play anywhere on the grass so it’s a lovely day out. If you want to buy some of their products, they’ll even give you an ice block to get your purchases home safely.
Tours are only $9 per person and are offered twice a day, Monday through Saturday at 10:30am or 2:30pm. Booking is appreciated – 07.5494.2392. It’s a wonderful experience for kids of all ages. It can be a bit muddy so bring some gumboots.
Maleny Dairies provided the tour for us.