The Dalton Family

Daltons Dairy,
Dalton Farms/Dairy,

Sponsored by: Morrisons

As tenant farmers on a 25-year Farm Business Tenancy across a 322-hectare (796-acre) unit, Suzie and Angus are running a 500-cow, spring block calving herd on a 100 per cent grassland system. Keen to add value to their core produce, an honesty shop on the farm was created in 2017 providing an outlet for their homemade ice cream, which has since gone to win a Great Taste Award.

Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, Suzie decided to bottle their own milk following requests from villagers. Their portfolio of produce also increased and the shop now sells its own handmade butter and yoghurts, plus eggs and cheese, which are all produced locally.

The family team all play to their strengths, with Angus switching his role from farm work to production of ice cream, butter, milk pasteurising and product development and Suzie taking responsibility for all calf rearing in spring, then other duties, including hop management, financial and office administration.

Son Henry returned from university to run the dairy herd and staff, including the students on work placements and work experience, while daughter Rosie returned to the business after completing her degree and is responsible for all things ice cream. She also manages all new customers, sales and social media.

Henry’s wife Rosa joined the team in 2015 after studying agriculture at Harper Adams University and she is responsible for accounting and budgeting.

Supporting three families is no mean feat, but the family works together to strengthen the different arms of the business, including new ventures which can be seen in the recent coffee and cone kiosk, which opened adjacent to the shop and is proving increasingly popular.

Taking proactive steps to mitigate the end of farm subsidies, the simplicity of the farm system keeps labour costs down, as does the 100 per cent grass feeding of the herd, which is benefiting the soil structure and organic matter of manures.

What the judges said:

The Dalton Family are admirably passionate about what they are doing and so sincere in the way they were doing it. A Very good attitude for farming and the rural life, they show they clearly care about their community. The enthusiasm from the whole family shone through, and are well aware of the challenges they face and had faced and continue to meet them head on. All family members are involved as they look to the future and share a vision to progress into the future as a solid unit.

On winning, The Dalton Family said:

“We were thrilled to win the Farming Family Business of the Year award, to receive this award at a fabulous presentation with the whole team was a wonderful way to celebrate. We have been overwhelmed with messages of congratulations and support. Winning the award makes us realise what a great industry we are part of; the judges remarks have given us confidence to know we have the vision and enthusiasm for the future. Starting off on a County Council holding in 1996 with 10 cows on 23 acres to now winning this prestigious award, shows that hard work and perseverance pays off – dreams do come true!”