The white stuff

My father never got on with sheep (“always looking for a new way to die”), so every morning and evening he milked 30 Ayrshire cows on our farm. In the 60 years since, the rule of farming has been to get bigger or get out, so my brother and sister now milk 250 cows at Riverford. When the local dairy stopped bottling organic milk, Oliver and Louise partnered up with some of the old dairy staff to pasteurise and carton the milk on the farm and to make yoghurt, cream and more recently, butter. I now have 250 words to convince you to buy the stuff. Here goes:

1.It tastes great. Maybe that’s because it is fresher; we go for a seven day shelf life compared to big dairies’ 14. Maybe it is that the cows have a more natural diet of forage (grass, clover etc.), not grain and soya. You can taste a cow’s diet in the milk, as we discovered recently when the cows ate waste apple pulp during cider making season. Not everyone liked it.

2.It’s better for you. Cows that eat more forage have substantially higher levels of Omega 3 in their milk. Most milk is homogenised to break up fat globules to nano-sized particles and stop them from separating out. There is some evidence that these can be absorbed into the blood directly across the gut wall, with potential health implications. We don’t homogenise, leaving you to decide if you want to give the milk a shake or not.

3.It is better for the cows. Our cows suffer less mastitis, less lameness, less infertility and live for much longer. Some super-intensive herds get fewer than two lactations per cow; the average is perhaps three or four. We get five.

4.It’s better for the environment. Our pastures get no synthetic fertilisers or sprays and are seldom ploughed, resulting in more biodiversity, lower use of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide being sequestrated in soil organic matter.

5.You know where it comes from. The milk is all from our cows, 200 yards from the dairy and delivered straight to your doorstep, without being transported unnecessarily or mixed with milk from hundreds of different farms.

Guy Watson

order milk, cream, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy from Riverford

4 responses to “The white stuff

  1. Anna Louise Lupton

    Your blog on the white stuff brings back many happy memories I have from childhood . Growing up over 5o years ago on a farm that had 30 happy cows ,where I drank my pint pot full of milk with a frothy milk -which I pretended was grown -ups beer with the head on pulled by my uncle straight out of the cow’s teats . Sadly those days have gone and we have only a suckler herd now. It is nice to read that you have a dairy herd producing as good as it can be in this day and age.
    Kind Regards Anna -
    p.s. I agree with your father about the sheep too.

  2. Sold! Am adding milk to my next order.

  3. I have 5-7 litres Riverford milk delivered every week. The previous milk in the plastic bottles did have a shelf life for us of 7 days. The Riverford milk in the cartons had a shelf life of 6 days and for quite some while now has been 5 days, so after throwing so much away when it was off, I started freezing it, which is not ideal.
    No one in our household has found the knack of opening the cartons and often some is spilt. Any chance of a screw cap opening in the cartons? I wouldn’t buy any other milk though, as yet I haven’t noticed any that isn’t homogenized.

  4. I couldn’t help smiling at the comment about sheep “always looking for a new way to die”. My local vet refused to have a look at one of my chickens on the grounds of, “what don’t they die of”.

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