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.
Article from The Telegraph 20 September 2016 • 2:00 PM
Faced with the prospect of having to sell his family farm after three generations because of plummeting milk prices, dairy farmer Bryce Cunningham launched an artisan “micro milk” business.
Milk from native Ayrshire cows at West Mossgiel Farm, near Mauchline, 30 miles south of Glasgow, is now supplied to 21 cafés and shops around the city, in Ayrshire and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
“Ayrshire cows have been native to south-west Scotland for hundreds of years, producing high-quality milk,” says Mr Cunningham. “They’re famous for their excellent ability to convert relatively poor natural Scottish forage into milk.”
In June, Ayrshire Farms also began the two-year process to become organic: farming without synthetic fertilisers, pesticides or chemical sprays, and processing the milk as little as possible.
“We batch-pasteurise and then bottle directly from the pasteuriser to ensure the fullest count of taste is retained,” he says. “As we do not standardise or homogenise the milk, the phenomenon of the ‘cream top’ remains – something that has been missing from milk for so long.”
Café and restaurant owners have also been impressed by the quality. “So many people notice the taste difference straight away – it almost floors people, with messages coming on our Facebook page weekly after people try it for the first time,” says Mr Cunningham.
“We were approached by McCune Smith, an ethically sourcing café in Glasgow, before we even launched Mossgiel Milk, asking if we could supply them. They discovered the milk works excellently in coffee and has a unique ability to froth. “We also received the same feedback from other cafés, and some coffee roasters are getting involved.”
Mossgiel Milk also has a farm shop selling “only Ayrshire produce”, and produce from businesses where the owners have a hands-on approach. “The disconnect between town and country is something I feel passionately about,” says Mr Cunningham.
“One day, I dropped off milk to a café we supply and a customer couldn’t believe a farmer was there.”