Tucked away in the heart of rural Devon is Taw River Dairy, owned and run by Sam Bullingham and Katie Bray. It’s the result of inspired thinking, brave financial decisions and sheer hard work.
The couple produce, pasteurise and process milk and ice-cream on site using milk from their small herd of pasture-fed Jersey and Jersey cross cows.
I met up with Sam and Katie to talk all things dairy…
Sam and Katie are doing incredible things over at Taw River Dairy. They believe farming should work with the environment and not against it, applying regenerative techniques to their parcel of land, farming it in harmony with nature.
One example of this is the farms holistic grazing techniques which are used help to build soil structure and organic matter. “Clover, bird’s foot trefoil, vetch, and plantain and chicory…” Sam excitedly points out the various herbs and different grasses growing in his meadows and hedgerows. He’s enthusiastic at the prospect of nurturing the plant-life and soil on which his animals graze and is planning on planting 800m of hedgerow this winter to further sequest carbon.
The farm even has its own bees who play an important role in the pollination of their herbal and grass leys, increasing biodiversity within each field. Sam believes his low intensity farming methods means their 400 acre farm traps more carbon in the soil than it releases.
We share Sam’s vision for ruminant livestock as a vital tool in becoming more resilient to climate change. One of the best ways we can heal the land is with ruminants. Grass has co-existed with cows for millennia, fertilising the land, building deep root systems that are vital in flood and drought prevention.
Sam and Katie’s eco-friendly farm is home to over fifty Jersey Cows. Their cows are 100% pasture fed, none of the animals have had concentrated feed or antibiotics and calves stay with their mothers until they finish suckling.
Allowing all their cows to rear their own calves is fundamental to their holistic beliefs. “We let them hang out with mum for three to four months,” Sam explains. “It makes sense. It’s less work as the cow rears the calves. At four months they’re fully established as grazers.”
Katie says: “It’s giving the calves a better start, they suckle when they want so they get stronger. You can see the difference in a calf reared by mum.”
Due to their natural system the cows are only milked once a day. Sam and Katie only take the milk remaining once the calves have had their breakfast.
As we walk the fields the herd is made up of a charming but slightly motley crew. Far from the consistency of Pipers Farm’s array of single native breed Red Rubies, Sam’s fields are a mix of pure Jerseys with their golden colouring and fluttering eyelashes, alongside are his Jersey crosses, framier and darker in coat, there’s even one or two native beef breeds munching on the wonderfully vibrant pasture.
Sam describes how he gradually built up the herd of by acquiring “a few odds and sods”; it all seems fairly laid-back until he starts talking about A2.
Sam explains how most intensively reared dairy herds produce A1 protein milk but A2 milk has much better health benefits including for people with intolerances. He goes on to explain how he has had his whole herd tested and almost all of his Jersey cows produce A2 milk proteins, which studies are now finding to be more easily digestible than standard milk, meaning even those who have been called milk/dairy intolerant can enjoy Taw River milk. He is working towards a complete A2 herd.
The result is truly sensational milk, rich in CLA, omega 3 and vitamin E.
Sam and Katie are doing incredible things over at Taw River Dairy. We couldn’t be more excited to bring their outstanding milk, straight to your doorstep. It is such a pleasure to see a young couple determined to make change, to farm in a way that respects nature, and inturn produce an unbeatable product.
Ethical, sustainable, and irresistible.
You can shop Taw River Dairy Milk here.