1. ITV Report

Meet the farmers with the mobile milking parlour

Two men from Dorset have set up as dairy farmers without actually having a farm at all. Tom Foot and Neil Grigg found it was just too expensive to set up in the conventional way so they invested in a mobile milking parlour.

They rent 900 acres of grassland and milk the cows there.

The cows are quite content to be milked in the same field where they've been grazing, just inland from Abbotsbury.

Instead of mooching off to a bricks and mortar milking parlour, the parlour comes to them - on a flatbed trailer. Its meant Tom Foot and Neil Grigg could achieve their ambition of becoming dairy farmers at around a fifth of the price of buying a conventional farm.

Instead of heading to a milking parlour, the parlour comes to them - on a flatbed trailer. Credit: ITV West

We've been able to set up a dairy unit with a relatively low capital outlay, very affordable, and basically in a day we could take this anywhere in the country if we wanted to.

– Neil Grigg, Dairy farmer

They had to find around 200 thousand pounds for young cows, but two years on and their herd of 500 is now worth double that. They built their mobile milking setup on a shoestring by adapting an abandoned temporary parlour. But it not been easy.

It's been pretty hard. We've had a few early mornings, up at three o'clock fairly regularly so we've had to get the parlours right before milking or improve them on a daily basis. And once the cows started calvign in February we'd get the cows in the barn and then we had to learn every day what we could do to make it better and I guess even today we're making improvements

– Tom Foot, Dairy farmer
At the end of the session the mobile milking parlour is packed up and moved Credit: ITV West

Both have farming backgrounds. Tom is also an engineer and Neil is an accountant. They reckon they've done their homework and while many dairy farmers are looking to get out of the industry they're confident they can make this work for them.

Every day about 6000 litres, that's about 13 hundred gallons, leaves the farm for the local creamery about two miles away, helping keep down their carbon footprint. It makes top quality Cheddar cheese. The people at the creamery were so impressed with the process, they told The West COuntry Tonight about it.

The cows are milked just once a day, and not at all for two months in the winter, so the milk is better for cheese and the dairy is happy to pay a premium.

Because of the way they treat their animals the solids are higher, so they produce on average 25 per cent less milk, but the solids are 33% higher so it gives us perfect milk for making cheese.

– Martin Crabb, Cheese maker

At the end of the session the mobile milking parlour is packed up and moved, along with the cows, to fresh pastures. Although they're only six months into their venture, Tom and Neil are already talking about renting more land and doubling the size of their herd.

Watch the full report from John Andrews:

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