GOLD WINNER FOR FAMILY FARMING BUSINESS
OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by: Morrisons
The Kerr Family
W.W. Kerr & Sons, South Corton Farm, South Ayrshire
Faced with a continually fluctuating dairy market coming to a head with recent crippling milk prices, the Kerr family needed to innovate to secure the future of their farm business.
After looking at what the farm business could do to widen its income pool, a change in milk contract and further diversification investment gave the family a turning point.
In June 2016, a new milk contract with Yew Tree Dairies, Skelmersdale, saw their milk price began to steadily increase and the contract also offered suppliers the option of fixed rate contracts for a percentage of their milk production.
The following February saw the family open the Coo Shed, a 70-seat coffee shop followed in June-2018 by the Milk Hoose, a milk vending machine which allows customers to purchase the Kerr’s milk directly from farm after it has been pasteurised by a local farmer.
Both are now run alongside the 220-head Holstein Friesian herd and plant nursery which was established 14 years ago.
Dairy farming remains the heart of the business, with William Kerr and son, David, 19, taking on its day-to-day running. William’s wife, Alison, works in the coffee shop and plant nursery, with daughter, Joanne, 16, helping on the farm and alongside Alison when she is not at school.
Cows are milked twice daily in a 20/20 parlour, with the farm run over 520 acres in total, 270 acres of which are owned alongside an additional 250 acres of rented ground.
Around 260 female followers are run, with male calves sold at two to four weeks old for the veal market. Heifers are served to an Aberdeen Angus bull and cows to a Holstein bull or AI’d.
This is a family with dairy farming at its heart, passionate about promoting their product in its rawest form. “We are rifling a milk craze and promoting pure milk, with a little bit of cream on top and people love it,” says Alison.
“For some, it brings back childhood memories with the glass bottles and no plastic cartons. At a time when the next generation are getting passionate about reducing plastic pollution and what we are doing supports that.”
The judges said about The Kerr Family: This was a very impressive, dynamic business with innovative ideas which have enabled the family to turn their business around after facing serious economic downturn. The involvement of the whole family is clear to see – all shared the determination needed to drive their dairy farming business forward alongside the diversification enterprises which have added to its success.
On winning, The Kerr family said: “Amazing to have won. We are humbled to have won this as we believe families are the backbone of the industry and we see our own children growing up and showing interest in what we do and wanting to learn. We all share enthusiasm and passion and look forward to building it with them for the future.”