Kingarth Farm Dairy
In the two years since it was launched, the Kingarth Farm Dairy in Burton Overy has gone from strength to strength, having increased its output and its range of products: it now sells whole milk, semi-skimmed milk and cream.
The milk comes from the Barbour family’s herd of 105 pedigree Holstein cows which produce around 3,000 litres a day, most of which is collected to be made into Stilton cheese by Tuxford and Tebbitt in the Vale of Belvoir.
Initially, the Barbours installed a pasteuriser with a 30 litre capacity, which heated the milk to 63 C before it was cooled and transferred into plastic bottles. Caroline Barbour, who runs the dairy operation as well as looking after three small boys, George (six) Arthur (four) and Charlie who is six months old, said, “Within just a few months of opening, we realised we needed more capacity, so we bought a larger pasteuriser which could cope with 150 litres of milk at a time.”
Earlier this year, she installed two vending machines, one for whole milk and one for semi-skimmed, Now the whole process is less time consuming, though she still needs to be around during opening hours, which are 7am until 7pm.
Another major change has been the switch from plastic bottles to reusable glass bottles instead. She sells these at £1.50 each, so customers can either fill these or can bring their own containers.She does still fill just a few plastic bottles for people who don’t want to use the vending machines.
Milk sells at £1.10 per litre. The machines take coins or notes and give change. She also offers customers the chance to have their own individual tab, which they can ‘load’ with money - usually £10 or £20 - and use to pay for their milk. The machine shows how much is left on their tab, after their purchase.
Kingarth milk is never older than 24 hours, and will keep in the fridge for eight days. The dairy has a five star hygiene rating, while the herd has its own veterinary health programme and is regularly inspected. Records relating to breeding, care and progress are kept for the cows, each of whom has her own cubicle with dry sand bedding.
Though they are comfortable inside, the cows are taken outside in the summer months to graze on fresh pasture. Kingarth milk is not homogenised, i.e. the fat molecules are not broken down and separated, but are integrated with the milk and are more easily digested. The fat content is currently 4% and tends to be slightly higher during winter months.
Caroline says: “I am often asked about extending our range, for instance to include yoghurt. I would love to do that in due course, and there is quite definitely a growing demand for fresh free range farm products like ours.