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Devon farmer's ethical approach to producing milk pays off

Dairy farmer Sam Bullingham believes in farming the old fashioned way. Credit: ITV West Country

Old fashioned milk in glass bottles, where the cream rises to the top, appears to be making something of a comeback.

Taw River Dairy at Sampford Courtenay near Okehampton in Devon, which produces ethical, sustainable milk, says interest is growing all the time and some shops which sell it have had to invest in a second fridge to keep up with demand.

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Sam Bullingham believes in doing things the old-fashioned way. His small herd of 50 cows are allowed to raise their own calves naturally, which he believes is a more ethical, sustainable method.

Cows at Taw River Dairy are allowed to raise their calves naturally. Credit: ITV West Country

There are some calves in the field with the cows and they stay with them all day, every day, up until they're about four months old, by which time they're fully able to graze grass and they go off into a little teenage group and separate from their mothers at that point.

We're not so concerned about high yields because we're selling a high quality product so we only milk the cows once a day.

– Sam Bullingham, Dairy farmer

Sam continues, "We do reduce our yield by leaving the calves with the cows, possibly by 500-1000 litres a cow per year but we see that as an investment in the future because then the calves are higher quality when they come into the herd themselves."

Some shops have had to get a second fridge because Sam's milk is so popular. Credit: ITV West Country

The whole milk the dairy produces is pasteurised but not homogenised so the cream separates and rises to the top, unlike most of the milk we get from supermarkets these days which is homogenised, the fat is broken down and doesn't separate.

Sam's milk has become so popular, some retailers have had to invest in a second fridge to keep up with demand.

One shop and cafe in Chagford on Dartmoor sells 240 litre bottles a week - they serve it in their coffee too.

Well it's almost like an addiction's happened, you know, it's like a craze. On some mornings people come and if it hasn't been delivered or it's slightly later than normal, people are coming in and saying "where's the milk?". We do have some customers who come in and collect ten bottles at a time.

– Deedee Moon, Cafe manager

Taw River Dairy is trying to crowdfund a new electric delivery van to make the business greener and has taken on more land so they can expand the herd to meet demand as interest in more ethical farming methods continues to grow.

The dairy farm is hoping to expand to keep up with demand. Credit: ITV West Country