Ben, Adam and Sam Spence

The Home Farmer, Home Farm, Yorkshire

An overhaul of the family dairy business has meant one small dairy farm is setting out to provide income for three farming families.

Brothers Ben and Adam Spence undertook the construction of a new cubicle house and parlour, and a decision to move into selling milk and cheese direct to consumers has proven pivotal.

The installation of a 24:24 rapid-exit parlour has helped to improve productivity, animal health and milk hygiene, contributing to a high quality milk supply from the 90-strong Friesian herd. It has also vastly reduced time spent milking.

Ben says: “We aim to be renowned for having happy, healthy cows which produce a smaller volume of high quality milk, rather than push our cows for yield.”

Running the farm with their parents and Ben’s wife Sam, the family supplies milk into Wensleydale Creamery, but has recently diversified into selling fresh milk and shortly cheese directly to consumers.

Converting a horse box into a small farm shop, the vehicle is driven to different Wensleydale villages each day of the week, including their vets, the creamery and local pub.

About 80-100 litres of milk is sold each day (about 5% of production) at £1/litre, although customers in their loyalty scheme buy it for 90ppl.

Milk is sold in reusable glass bottles which the customers return to refill. In the first two months alone, they saved 4,000 plastic bottles from landfill by
encouraging the use of recyclable glass.

From the outset of the renovation work, the team regularly engages with the public on farming and food production methods, and is heavily active on social media, sharing their daily life on-farm with 9,000 followers.

Looking ahead, the family has recently finished completion of a cheese processing room and will begin production of a raw milk farmhouse cheese in the coming weeks to sell from their mobile trailer. This has been done with the support of their local Wensleydale Creamery.

Sam says: “We have bought four Montbeliarde heifers, as we understand the characteristics of the milk they produce is ideal for cheesemaking. We want to produce the first farmhouse raw milk Wensleydale cheese and will be carefully planning our route to market.”