ONE farmer has come up with a clever way of combating a drop in milk prices to prolong his third generation family business.
The cream is set to rise to the top at West Mossgiel Farm – literally.
Now, on the lands once worked by Robert Burns, a young farmer is launching a radical bid to secure a future in dairy farming – and is causing a milk shake-up.
Faced with paltry milk prices, farmer Bryce Cunningham, 29, was staring down the barrel of being forced to quit his family farm after three generations.
But after selling off most of his dairy cows, dad-of-one Bryce has transformed his farm into an artisan micro milk business – where quality comes before quantity.
Customers are set to beat a path to the farm’s shop in Tarbolton Road, Mauchline, where they will soon be able to buy creamy fresh milk, processed on site.
Bryce, supported by his nurse wife Amy, says the proof will be in the tasting, and pegs his “Mossgiel Milk” as an alternative to mass produced brands.
Importantly, Mossgiel Milk is not homogenised, meaning the cream will settle at the top of the bottle – something many younger customers will never have tasted.
He said: “When I took over the farm in October the costs were higher than the profits.
“Since then the milk price has dived 14p a litre, which would have cost us about £150,000 a year.
“I’ve reduced the milking herd from 130 a year ago down to 45.
“It’s about maximising the quality of the milk, and because it’s from Ayrshire dairy cows, the quality is already high.
“If you don’t do something like this, what do you do?”
Now Bryce hopes his pasteurisation plant will secure a bright future on the 200 acres for 10-month-old son Arron.
And while his focus is on the future, Bryce’s links to the past – and our famous ploughman poet – are uncanny.
Both Bryce and Burns worked neighbouring West and East Mossgiel farms respectively – and Bryce will soon take over part of East Mossgiel too.
And both were in their twenties when their fathers passed away leaving them in charge of Ayrshire dairy cows.
In Burns’ time, the breed was known as the Cunningham Cow – matching Bryce’s surname.
Currently Bryce leases his farm from landlord Hagart Alexander, whose family were Burns’ landlord too.
And, perhaps most importantly, they are both forward thinking trailblazers.
The family have already opened a farm shop which boasts a host of fine fayre.
Goodies include: Dunlop dairy cheese from Stewarton, Corrie Mains free range eggs from Mauchline, Woody’s Ice Cream from Galston, butcher meat from Nethergate Larder in Dunlop, Graeme’s Honey from Mossblown, home baking from Kate’s Bakes in Ochiltree, and potatoes from neighbouring Skoech Farm.
And with future plans including educational farm tours for school kids, watch this space as we bring you more from West Mossgiel Farm.