April update from the Farm and Dairy

The Dorset Dairy Co

So we missed a newsletter last month... it turns out they
take a lot to write and we’ve been super busy with more production improvements to accommodate your insatiable thirst for kefir, our yearly food safety certification audit and general farming between the non-stop rain (not to mention the imminent arrival of DDC baby #2).

Farm Yard Update

The small group of cows that managed to stretch their legs in
February were soon back in as the wettest March in 40 years set in, as I write this today they are still in the barn looking out on saturated fields. We are lucky to have just enough forage to see us through until May, surely there will be an improvement by then...

The panic of the spring field work is beginning to weigh down on us, as every week that passes the window to get timing right for dung
spreading, cultivations for maize planting, silage making, organising stock and fields for turn out all becomes much shorter.

On the plus side, we were delighted to be declared TB-free last week after another 6 months of being shut down (a topic for another newsletter!).

Photo taken this week of the Angus and Belgium blue calves born in November. Harry, Reece and Dylan have done a great job with this year's calves - this particular group are exceptional!

Product of the month - Milk

What sets our milk apart from the supermarket stuff?

The process for Dorset Dairy milk:

Our pasteurised Whole milk and Semi Skimmed milk are kept as natural and unaltered as possible. The process is very simple: as we milk the cows, the fresh milk is piped straight out of the milking parlour while it's still warm (about 35°C). It goes through a plate heat exchanger (which recycles energy through heat recovery) to warm it further before it reaches our batch pasteuriser where it’s held for 30 minutes at 65°C. This temperature is hot enough to pasteurise it (cook off any potentially dangerous bacteria) and give us a longer shelf life than raw milk. After being held for 30 minutes the milk is pumped through cooling plates (more energy efficiency!) and into the chilled holding tank where it’s held under 4°C until bottling and keg filling. This process takes less than 2 hours. When we make semi-skimmed milk, we add a proportional amount of skimmed milk to reach an average fat content of 1.8%.

The process for standard supermarket milk:

The cows are milked with the milk then chilled and stored under 5°C in the farm bulk tank. The milk tanker will collect it every day or every other day on its round, which includes other nearby farms, and transport it back to the factory where it will be held and mixed with milk from many more farms. It is then pumped through a homogeniser, which compresses the milk under very high pressure to force the fat globules out of their variable sized natural state and into a fine suspension in the milk, so it will not separate. The milk then goes through a standardiser, which is a cream separator that removes all the cream and then only adds back into the required fat content. After that, it enters the continuous flow pasteuriser where it’s heated up to 72°C for 15 seconds then cooled down to less than 5°C for bottling. It can take up to two weeks for milk to get from the cow to the supermarket shelf!

The temperature difference between the two processes can make a big difference to the taste of the milk even though it is only 7°C! Our milk will taste ‘sweeter’, with a mouthfeel a lot closer to raw milk. This also means our milk's taste, texture and even colour will fluctuate throughout the year as the cows' diet changes from forage to grass, this is completely natural and a good example for seasonal eating.

The homogenisation process was brought in by big dairy to make the milk on supermarket shelves look white and creamy and prevent any separation (cream rising to the surface). This extra process is for purely aesthetic reasons, all you need to do is give the bottle a quick shake so nobody fights over who gets the best bit!

Some consumers find they digest unhomogenised milk a lot better than homogenised milk and there are a few theories about the side effects of the unnaturally small particles in the latter being absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion but all we know for sure is that our milk tastes better!

Our current herd average for April so far is 4.7% butter fat and 3.5% protein.  The fat content will drop as soon as the cows go out to grass as the lower fibre of spring grass reduces butter fat production.

More on milk next month!

Cow of the month


9,908L milk in this lactation

4.52 % fat

3.73 % protein

Recipe of the Month

In the spirit of next month's events here is Alex's awesome Coronation Chicken recipe

Skill level - Farmer's wife


500g Chicken Breasts

150g Whole milk Strained Yoghurt

170g Mayonnaise

60g Sultanas

60g Flaked almonds

4 tbsp Mango chutney

2 ½ tsp Madras curry powder

1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce


Put the chicken breasts into a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 15min or so, until the chicken is cooked through. This will prevent the chicken from going dry. Drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, place the sultanas in a bowl and pour boiling water
over them. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to plump the up. Toast the curry powder in a small frying pan, stirring until it smells fragrant (about 40sec). Empty into a large bowl and mix along the Dorset Strained Yoghurt, mayonnaise, mango chutney and Worcestershire sauce, along with plenty of seasoning.

Tear the cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the yoghurt mixture, along with most of the flaked almonds, the drained sultanas and chopped coriander. Stir well and serve with a garnish of flaked almonds and coriander.

We hope you have enjoyed the fifth edition of our monthly newsletter. We love hearing back from you on  hello@thedorsetdairyco.com and on socials.

Dan & Alex