Hear from those who are reclaiming milk’s true value by taking a radically different look at what dairying has to offer – from raw milk to micro-dairies.
Neil graduated from Harper Adams Agricultural College in 1986 and has since managed a diverse range of dairy farming businesses over the last 30 years. Today he runs a farm in Somerset, carrying 200 dual purpose Montbeliarde cows producing both milk and beef. In 2014 Neil was awarded the BBC Outstanding Farmer of the Year.
The journey Neil has taken through his career, along with a Nuffield Farming Scholarship studying dairy farms abroad, has led him to question the benefits of a relentless pursuit of higher volumes of milk from cows and farms and the pressure this puts on dairy farmers. Neil believes that the adoption of robust dairy breeds and improved grassland management offers farmers the opportunity to escape from the treadmill of commodity milk production and establish a truly sustainable future for the benefit of all.
Neil is Director of the Free Range Dairy Network CIC, a farmer led organisation which he set up to win value in Britain’s pasture-based dairy herds. He is now finalising producer standards for free range milk production that will allow CIC members to market milk and dairy products under the ‘Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise’ label.
Robert has been dairy farming for almost 30 years during which time he has grown the family business from just 40 cows on 160 acres in the mid 1980’s to almost 1000 cows today farming over 1100 acres. Inspired by practical grassland thinking from New Zealand, Robert and his wife Jackie have successfully developed a highly efficient and robust dairy farming operation on two units in the lush pastures of the Eden Valley in Cumbria.
Rejecting the push towards increasing confinement dairy farming the Craigs’ seasonal block calving approach has attracted many thousands of visitors during the past two decades. A 2012 Nuffield Farming Scholarship allowed Robert to travel to India, China, New Zealand, South America and California studying food chain sustainability. In 2014 Robert was awarded the Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the year award. Keen to give back to the farming community Robert held the office of NFU County Chairman in 2010-11 and is now actively involved in the dairy coop First Milk.
Christine owns and runs Smiling Tree Farm in south Shropshire, 70 acres of permanent pasture, meadows, herbal leys, integrated wildlife zones and forest gardens. The farm uses both modern and traditional methods to grow food and raise happy, healthy animals. There is a micro-dairy with Jersey cows fed-grass, hay and sprouted peas and barley, a living food, to produce delicious,nutrient-dense raw milk, butter and cheese. Sweet, tender lamb comes from a friendly flock of Shetland sheep raised on a pasture-fed system. Smiling Tree also has free-range rare-breed pigs and tree-roosting chickens, also fed on sprouted fodder to produce sweet, tasty pork and eggs with a bright yellow yolk.
Recordings (Youtube Videos)