I am a freelance writer and diversional therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Must do Brisbane and Starts at Sixty. Visit my blogs at babybloomin.wordpress.com and brisbanetripster.wordpress.com.
Published May 10th 2014
Discover a place where robots and cows are working together
The Dennis family farm is set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the Great South East. The Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy is a one and a half hour drive from Brisbane. Just outside Beaudesert you turn off the Mt Lindesay Highway and enter the world of Farmer Gregie and his family.
Farmer Gregie is a fourth generation dairy farmer and this property has been in his family since 1936. Back in those days cows were still being milked by hand, a far cry from the method being used today. Today the farm's 250 plus cows are milked by Lely Astronaut robots. These were the first LELY robots to be used in Queensland and effectively saved the Dennis family farm. They came into effect at a time when the milk wars saw dairy farmers getting a very poor price for their product. The robotic system is very high tech and has to be seen to be believed. It is less stressful on the cows - and we're talking about five star luxury Holstein dairy cows. These cows are bred and looked after 24/7, thanks to these very clever robots. Farmer Gregie is passionate about his girls. They have a large freestall barn to shelter in from the weather, gel mats to sit or stand on and even a sprinkler system to keep them cool in hot weather. When they're not being milked the girls are free to roam, rest in the freestall barn or graze in the green pastures.
The freestall barn, complete with gel mats for the cows' comfort
The Dennis family built their own milk processing plant on farm and in June of last year Scenic Rim 4REAL milk became a REALity. I don't want to give away too much about the Lely robots because you can do a tour of the dairy and find out all about them for yourself. During the dairy tours Farmer Gregie gives a very informative talk on the robotic system. Why should you do a tour? Experience for yourself the passion, commitment and love that this family has for their farm and the dairy industry; learn how technology has changed the operation and processes on farm; and enjoy the wonder in your kids' eyes as they watch the robots doing the milking - it's great for kids too see where their milk really comes from. You never know, you may be as lucky as my friends and I were. Just as we were leaving, a baby cow was born and it was amazing to see the birth of this little baby!
Scenic Rim 4REAL milk is now available in over 140 cafés and stores in South East Queensland, with the list growing daily. If you'd like to taste REAL milk - the way it used to taste - check out the stockists list on the website. What makes this milk so good? Minimal processing, low food miles, it's produced from pasture-based cows and is farm gate fresh. Remember when you used to open a bottle of milk to find a delicious plug of cream sitting on top? Well, it's back and it's soooooo good - for REAL! But milk isn't the only item being produced here. Delicious Camembert and Brie are also products of the Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy. And there's more big news about to break about yet another addition to their range. When you do a Dairy tour, you have the opportunity to buy these products, so make sure you bring an esky or cooler bag with ice or cooler bricks.
Tours run most days but you do need to book. Group tours are the norm here but if you are a family, a couple or a single, just call Brenda on (07) 55442206 and she will get you sorted. The dairy tour costs $16 for an adult, $8 per student and $45 for a family. It's worth noting that schools, respite centres, senior citizen groups and nursing homes are all accommodated and made to feel very welcome on these dairy tours.
Most importantly, the Dennis Family's Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy is 100% Australian owned - and that's a REAL bonus. This is very much a family business, with everyone chipping in to do their bit. As well as the family, Farmer Gregie has a very dedicated team working for him who also share his passion for dairy farming.
Sandy, did you ask the farmer what will happen to the calf whose birth you witnessed? If it was a male, it's probably already dead as I write this because its mother's milk will have been immediately diverted for human consumption and males are regarded as surplus or wastage in the dairy industry. It's not the sweet little wholesome industry you and the industry paint it to be. Babies ripped from their mums at one day old causes grief, pure and simple, and killing male calves isn't the stuff of picture books either. Bet the kids on their 'educational' tours don't get told these things.
Brought back memories as I used to live in Boonah. Good to see the Scenic rim again. I do remember the poddy calves being taken from their mothers on the farm next to us - the mothers spent days lowing in grief at losing their offspring and the poddies spent hours bellowing for their mothers.