Our favorite adventure in Heber Valley was a tour of the dairy farm at Heber Valley Artisan Cheese. This farm is entirely automated, which means that the cows are cleaned up after, milked, and fed, by robots. We were stunned to see how cool this futuristic farm was!
Our tour began with a wagon ride over to visit the calves. The calves were housed in temporary shelters because they are getting a new barn, but they were so cute and came right over to us hoping to be fed. They weren’t scared at all, and wanted to suck our fingers and lick our hands. We spent about twenty minutes getting to know them before heading to the barn.
The large barn holds 130 cows, and amazingly, they are milked whenever they want. That’s right, the cows decide when they are ready for a milking. Then they are trained to walk into the milking robot. Tiny cameras hook the milk machine to the cows udder, which is then washed before the cows are milked. Each cow has a collar that keeps track of its health, number of visits to the milking robot (up to five per day!), and milk output. We watched with mouths open as these brilliant cows wandered over for a milk whenever they wanted one.
One interesting thing was watching the computer. Each cow is monitored, and the computer output gives full details on the cow. We watched as the computer predicted the amount of milk each cow should give. Then the weight of the milk given slowly went up until the cow was done. It also told the number of visits a cow made to the robot, and how many were expected. It was so cool.
Other machines that we saw were the manure scraper, the feed machine, and the back scratcher. The scraper moves very slowly on a track through the barn, cleaning up after the cows. When it comes to a cow, the cow simply steps over it. The feed machine is like a giant roomba vacuum. It comes out every hour or so and sweeps the food back over to the cows, who move it around as they eat. It is guided by sensors in the floor. The back scratcher was our favorite. We watched as cows walked over to the scratch brush and pushed against. Then they enjoyed a nice back scratch as the brush spun around.
The tour also took us to see the massive vats where the milk is gathered, and to an old barn from the days before fully automated milking robots put the decision of when to milked up to the cows.
Make sure to plan some time inside the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese store. There are cheese samples, as well as really good ice cream (huckleberry was our favorite). The store also has a few sandwiches and food items. You can begin or end your tour here. Or if you don’t want to take the tour, stop for a treat when you visit Heber Valley.
We loved this tour! It was so much fun to see how farming is changing, and even the cows are getting a choice about when to give milk. You really have to see it to believe it!
- Tours are daily in warmer months at 11 AM. Advanced tickets are recommended.
- Tours cost $16/adult (12 and up) and $8/child (6-12). 5 and under are free.
- The tour lasted about an hour. Visit their site for more information about the Dairy Farm Tours.
- We recommend wearing shoes (not sandals or flip flops) since you will be walking around dirt and hay.
- There is also a creamery tour that we want to try next time. These tours are Tues/Thurs and are $8. More details on their website.