15th April 2021
If you're wanting to make some small changes in your shopping habits for the better, local milk deliveries are an excellent place to start!
At Plurenden Manor Farm, we're all about educating customers so they can make better choices. So here's a bit of information about exactly what goes into your daily pint of the white stuff...
We milk our cows in the morning and bottle it the very same morning. The herdsman starts at 5.30 with the cows and on bottling days I start at 4, as the pasteuriser takes a while to set up and get warm.
The milk is pumped just yards from the dairy to the milkshed where we can bottle it & separate the cream. The afternoon milkmen arrive and deliver this to the customers.
Milk that leaves the farm for the big processors follows a longer path. Milk is collected from here every other day, then it travels to the plant for pasteurising and bottling. It is then stored and transported to the shops, so at least 2 days old before it reaches the shelves.
Our whole milk is NOT standardised. This means that all the cream is left in, so the full natural 4.2%. Our whole milk in glass bottles is completely natural as it comes from the cow - a good cream layer will settle at the top 😊
When you buy our whole and semi-skimmed milk in plastic bottles, its homogenised – which is where the cream particles are split so they remain evenly dispersed in the milk and don’t form a cream layer at the top, which is more favourable for coffee machines I’m told?! Originally, I was against this process but I have to agree that most customers prefer no cream layer on their semi!! (semi-skimmed milk is 1.7-1.9% fat as standard)
Skimmed milk is without the cream on- we save the cream for potting and butter.
At processing plants, its common practise to mix milk from all the farms as it arrives in the silos, and all the milk is then skimmed to save the cream for more profitable butter, puddings etc.
The milk is then bottled as skimmed, or has the relevant percentage of cream added back to it to make it semi skimmed (1.7%) or whole milk (3.7%), so it is correct as per the label, which is important of course - but the milk is so highly mixed and processed there is no way it can taste as it would from the direct cows.
We aim to keep our products as simple yet tasty as possible - natural milk, yoghurt without thickeners or sugars, and traditionally churned butter.
We sell our milk for processing at 26ppl (pence per litre). The costs of production- including the un-thought of things like growing grass, vet care, bedding, winter feed, minerals, feet trimming and calf and young stock rearing, the time for milking and all this care from family and members of farm staff, cost around 30 to 35ppl. So every litre is produced at a loss. These big processors can simply write us a letter to tell us at any time that they are dropping the price- all the while costs seem to rise!
(Recently they have had covid as a genuine reason, with cafes and airline closures, but usually there is just a simple “race to the bottom” to sell milk cheaper and cheaper or import it.)
By diversifying and bottling our own milk we can take back the control of the milk price. We bottle and deliver our milk for 70p per pint, collect and re-use the bottles.
Making a batch of yoghurt converts the value of 40 litres of milk from £10 to £100. Obviously there's more work and packaging involved, but if we didn't have the income from this, we really wouldn’t be here any more. Its a brutal as that!
Environmental & Social Responsibility
All our farm staff and milkmen and dairymaids are local people. We try to use reusable glass where we can for our packaging - something supermarkets cannot do.
Traceability & Animal Welfare
If you choose our milk, or any local milk, you can have traceability of the milk.
You can meet the cows that produce your milk, and I hope that my customer choose us because they can see how we care for the cows here. They are all very friendly and happy.
We allow our cows to graze in summer months.
Cows and calves stay together for 7-10 days longer after calving, they both do so much better this way, and enjoy skipping about– industry generally separate them as soon as possible after birth. This is an important issue for many milk drinkers.
We keep all our heifer calves to rear and join the herd- and bull calves are reared here for a month or so and then sold to an auntie in surrey whom rears them for beef at about 2 years old.
We work hard to reduce environmental pressures on the cows- as they are hard working ladies- I use probiotics in the water, also helping to reduce our antibiotic use here. We use natural supplements garlic and zinc where possible.
The cows feet are routinely trimmed, and any emergency lameness seen as soon as possible. Some of the girls here are 10, 12 years old and will retire here, as they deserve.
Our logo is a cow called Velvet, one of my favourite girls, gave me a Friesian heifer calf in February, and I was so pleased - keeping cow families and knowing their history is one of the joys of dairy farming!
Plurenden Manor Farm offer door step deliveries within a 10 mile radius of the farm in Plurenden (between Tenterden & Ashford)
To find out more about local milk, search 'Milk' on the website.