GOLD WINNERS FOR DAIRY INNOVATOR
OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by: Dairymaster
Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore
Fen Farm, Fen Farm Dairy Ltd, Suffolk
A switch to Montbeliarde cows has prompted the supply of raw milk sales from Fen Farm and the creation of an award-winning cheese and butter.
Baron Bigod claims to be the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese produced in the UK and is being supplied across the UK, Europe and Asia, into premium outlets such as Harrods and Fortnums, and through online sales.
Fourth generation farmer Jonny Crickmore, who farms alongside his family, introduced a raw milk vending machine in 2011 to add value to their core product.
The cows were initially bought in from the French Alps in 2012 and today half the 300-head are pure bred, with the aim to be 100 per cent in the future.
Producing high quality milk from home-grown forage, the cows are averaging 8,000 litres at 3.5 per cent protein and almost four per cent butterfat and are carriers of Kappa casein BB and the A2 gene.
Cows are managed in autumn and spring calving blocks and are fed a lot of high quality forage to achieve the high milk quality desired for cheese production.
A number of key investments include a new cow shed, calf housing, maize clamp, a feed shed and a parlour extension.
A new cheese factory is currently being built to facilitate increased production as the business joins a retail box scheme after recognising potential in the food delivery market.
“We wanted to cut out the middle men in the supply chain, create our own brand and produce something unique, which we now have. Sales are continuing to grow and we have more control over setting the price for our product. We can see a very promising for us.”
Looking ahead, their 10-year plan includes another herd of dairy cows on another farm and the production of a second unique cheese.
The judges said about Jonny and Dulcie: Jonny and Dulcie are passionate and a progressive dairy farmers. They have strived to add value to their milk on their own terms and they are running a profitable and creative dairy farm business. Understanding their long term vision, the dynamic couple are a formidable force and are ones to continue to watch in the future.
On winning, Jonny and Dulcie said: “We are lost for words. Innovation is key to our dairy farm business and we will continue to carry on and find new ways of working. My father always told me if you stand still you will just go backwards. There are times when dairy farmers have been through really tough times but you have to remain confident in yourself and believe you can do it”