The best quality milk comes from local, healthy and happy cows, believes the third generation dairy in Shaftesbury
BV Dairy was established in 1958 and is now run by the third generation of the Highnam family. Both the business and the range of specialty products has grown and developed to form one of the most respected and successful independent dairies in the South West.
BV Dairy started in the family home at Kington Magna, selling liquid cream. The business moved to its current site in Shaftesbury in the mid-1980s, and with the extra space the product range was extended to cultured milk products like yoghurts, sour cream and crème fraîche – anything from nought per cent fat soft cheese (quark) up to a 45% fat soft cheese (cream cheese).
Our UF Plant, a world-class facility for manufacturing, was commissioned in May 2004. It uses Ultra Filtration (UF) Technology that, at the time, was a recent manufacturing process and uncommon in the UK. The plant offers total flexibility in the manufacturing of a range of different products, and has enhanced our position as an innovative manufacturer of specialist dairy product for our customers. Our active New Product Development department works constantly on new concepts and also with customers (and potential customers) whenever possible.
October 2016 saw the commissioning of a new chill store facility; housing 1,000 pallet spaces and incorporating new office space and storage. The design ethos is based on lean principles, efficient running and full IT integration. We utilise VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) Fork Trucks running on guidance systems; and solar panels which generate 3,500kWh of electricity each day.
Back to the farm
Hailing from a farming background originally, BV Dairy understands all aspects of the dairy industry and is proud of its strong relationship with the local farming community. We understand the importance of restricting food miles; our milk is sourced directly from within the local community, from dairy farms within a 30-mile radius of the production facility in Shaftesbury.
These farms are regularly inspected as part of the Red Tractor Farm Assured Scheme and are required to comply with this standard. In addition, BV Dairy’s own Farm Liaison Team work closely with our farmers in applying modern best-practice principles and helping them maintain herds of healthy, happy cows that supply high quality, rich, tasty and nutritious milk. When collected from the farm all milk joins a schedule of testing – not only to maintain quality but also to form the basis of an agreed payment scheme for the farmer. In addition, BV Dairy host regular forums attended by their farmers and other invited dairy professionals where issues can be discussed and ideas exchanged to help ensure a continuing good working partnership.
The BV Dairy cows
Our typical dairy farm supplier has a long heritage of dairy farming, and a long relationship with the Dairy. They vary in size from smaller, family farms with around 80 cows up to larger concerns with 400 cows. The systems used are dependent on the individual farm but ALL cows will go out on grass for a period of the year, and spend their winter in a cubicle house or barn.
The breed of cow is also varied, with some farms having pedigree Holstein Friesians and others having crossbred stock – such as Jersey crossed with Friesian. There are also Guernsey’s, Brown Swiss and Montbeliarde.
A nutritious diet is essential and in summer months this is mainly grass. In the winter when grass does not grow well cattle are fed mainly silage (preserved grass or maize) with a mixture of cereals and protein feeds to ensure that they maintain their health.
BV Dairy support varied calving patterns as this helps achieve a consistent volume of milk arriving at the Dairy. Calving timetables are tailored by the farmer to suit his farm, workforce and the space and land available – there could also be other farming enterprises such as arable, beef cattle or sheep to consider. Some farms have the facilities to calve year-round whilst others calve in blocks; spring or autumn, or sometimes both!!
BV Dairy is committed to its farmers whatever size their farm and our aim is to help them support healthy, happy cows