Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.

Milk; mega dairies or a return to real milk, direct from small local dairies.

Milk is a classic example or how the ‘food industry’ can ruin a product and in this case, many of those producing it. Are we moving closer to mega dairies or is there hope for the small dairy and high quality milk for local consumers?

Some people remember the days when most villages had a local dairy and they could buy Raw milk direct from the farmer. Since then the number of dairy farmers in the UK has gone from 45,000 in the 80s to 14,500 in 2012, and the threat of mega dairies like the USA, where 32,000 cows rarely taste fresh grass, looms.

So it seems that cheap, standard, fresh milk, available everywhere, that lasts for weeks in the fridge, has to be be paid for by farmers losing their jobs. And if the trend continues we consumers will rarely see cows in fields or be able to consume real milk.

News stories like: ‘Milk cheaper than water in some shops’, ‘Small dairies close as supermarkets force down prices’, ‘Frankencows in Mega Dairies’ ‘Kids eczema linked to homogenised milk’,and ‘Raw Milk illegal’ will be history.

So what hope for small dairies? Dairy farmers selling direct.

Hook & Son Raw Milk

Hook & Son Raw Milk

Did you know that you can buy raw milk online, or if you live in the Cotswolds, Guernsey milk from vending machines filled by the the local dairy, who currently, only have 16 cows? Both dairies carry the flag for small, profitable, dairy farming and charge nearly three times the price of standard supermarket milk, but still only £2 per litre. Profitable because by selling direct they get £1.70/ltr, six times, more, than they would get selling to a processor.

Many people are saying that £2 a litre for a product with the same name and colour but completely different taste and nutritional vale is a bargain, and sales of milk via the vending machines are growing fast.

If, like me, you are hoping a local dairy sets up a vending machine near you, keep an eye on our local food map, or subscribe to our emailed post code specific newsletter where we will include your local food news. The more we support these farmers the more likely we are to see cows in the fields again and be able to drink quality milk.


  1. sophiecussen says:

    I would be happy to support and pay extra from a local farmer. Small farms I believe are much more productive and in tune with the animals and plants they work with and ultimately give much better quality food and dairy.

  2. Sue Melville says:

    I buy all my milk now from Abel & Cole who support small dairy farms. It is more expensive but not hugely and definitely tastes much better.

  3. Sam says:

    Please dont tar everyone with the same brush. I am a milk recorder and as my job entails being on the farm when the cows are being milked i see first hand the differences between small and large farms. It has to be said the welfare of the cows is first and foremost on all of the farms. at the end of the day a happy, healthy well fed cow will produce a healthy calf and plenty of milk. The huge farms actually have more staff per cow ratio than some of the smaller farms. It is the super markets that is the problem as they dictate what they want. I believe most people would pay a bit extra for their milk if they thought it was actually going to the farmer but as with most commodoties the middle man is the one making the money. we should all shop local and in season.

  4. Penelope Bossom says:

    My children had great fun collecting the Guernsey milk from the vending machine at Burford Garden Centre – they now have 3 –

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *