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  • Posted November 27th, 2015

    Microdairies: making them as successful as micro-breweries

    Microdairies: making them as successful as micro-breweries

    A conference on the benefits of small-scale commercial dairy farms of up to 40 cows or the equivalent of sheep or goats. How to establish them and how to promote the concept. For practising and prospective dairy farmers and others with a professional interest in the future of the British dairy industry.

    23 & 24 February 2016, Monkton Wyld Court, Charmouth, Dorset

    Britain’s dairy industry has long been in a state of chronic crisis. Within the last 20 years more than two thirds of our dairy farms have stopped producing. Owing to the stranglehold of milk processors and supermarkets, margins are so tiny that only large farms enjoying economies of scale and investing  millions of pounds in hyperefficient systems are expected to survive. There is however an alternative for the farmer or new entrant who wants to keep a dairy herd and run a business of more modest proportions.

    The milk provided by an average dairy cow annually is worth between £6,000 and £14,000 when sold retail — as opposed to barely £2000 if sold to a  processor. The farmer who finds a way of processing and marketing milk directly will recapture the profit that would otherwise be creamed off by the  corporations. A herd of 20 cows can be bringing in a turnover of over £150,000.

    Of course there are investment and labour costs involved in establishing and running a successful direct marketing business. The main purpose of this conference is to examine what opportunities are currently available for establishing microdairies supplying milk, cheese, yoghurt and other products and what are the costs and constraints involved. It will be led by experts in the field including existing practitioners.

    The second day of the conference will also look at ways of promoting the concept more widely and capturing the public’s imagination. Over the past twenty years thousands of microbreweries have sprung up around Britain. Over the next 20 years we hope to see thousands of new microdairies.

    Cows at Monkton Wyld Court.


    Tuesday 23 February
    10 am Welcome and Introduction
    Keynote speech from Colin Tudge
    Followed by a series of panel-led discussions:
    • Production and Processing
    • Marketing
    • Health and Safety
    • Economics
    • Resource Directory

    Wednesday 24 February
    • Training and Mentoring
    • Access to Land
    • Promoting the Concept
    Panel participants include:
    • Josh Healey and Matt Dale of North Aston Dairy
    • Nick Snelgar of Maple Field Milk • Jaap de Jonge
    of Jongia UK • Tommy Szebeni of Milk Station
    vending machines • John Meadley of Pasture Fed
    Livestock Association • Simon Crichton of Triodos
    Bank • Robert Fraser, farmer and financial adviser
    to Funding Enlightened Agriculture• Harry Travis,
    environmental health consultants (tbc) • and others.

    Monkton Wyld Court

    Monkton Wyld Court is a former rectory built in 1843, now run as a rural guest house and conference and education centre. It is situated two miles from the Dorset coast, and four miles from Axminster railway station. There has been a dairy operation of three to six cows at Monkton Wyld Court at least since 1941, making it perhaps the oldest established dairy of its size in the UK. You can find out more about Monkton Wyld Court here.



    Attendance at the Microdairy Gathering 23-24 Feb 2016 (including two lunches and one evening meal) £70
    Bed and Breakfast (single-sex shared room) £25 per person per night
    Bed and Breakfast (double room) £50 per room per night
    Bed and Breakfast (single room) £35 per night
    Camping (in February?) and camper vans £15 per night
    Meals are vegetarian with an abundance of home produced dairy products. We can accommodate most dietary requirements. There is a bar on the premises and homereared pork sausages can be barbecued.

    If you wish to book a place, or require further information please email [email protected] or phone Simon on 01297 561359.


    Monkton Wyld Court is less than half a mile from the A35 between Lyme Regis and Axminster. We have limited parking space in winter, so if you can come by public transport that is much appreciated. The nearest train station is Axminster, on the Exeter to London Waterloo line. We will be picking people up from there at prearranged times. We can also pick people up alighting from the X53 Dorchester to Exeter and X31 Dorchester to Axminster bus services.

    Nanodairy gathering

    This conference is being organized in conjunction with another, on the 25 and 26 February, for people keeping from one to four dairy cows. We’ll be blogging about this one soon, and you can contact Simon for more info – contact details above.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1Carol Scott November 29th, 2015

      can you bring this to ST. Louis Mo. USA. We need this so bad.

    • 2Biddy Fraser-Davies November 30th, 2015

      It sounds like a very interesting conference – pity it’s the other side of the world from New Zealand!

      I have 4 Jersey cows and all the milk is used to make traditional hard farmhouse cheese (Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese). I won a super gold award at the World Cheese Awards 2014-15 in London December 2014. Sad to say, the authorities in New Zealand make it extremely difficult for small production artisan cheese businesses to survive as the country is totally geared to large scale dairy production designed for the export market. Please would it be possible to receive a PDF document of your deliberations after your conference?

    • 3Rosemary Champion December 1st, 2015

      The link to the nano dairies even isn’t working. I don’t want to miss out ?

    • 4billshaver December 1st, 2015

      wonder if this concept will catch on in usa….or is all this just a clever ruse for people to buy into & thus be milked…once again!!!!

    • 5Carol Anderson December 7th, 2015

      I was supposed to receive an email confirmation, but as yet haven’t please respond

    • 6Dave Darby December 7th, 2015

      Sorry, confirmation of what?

    • 7alexheffron April 15th, 2016

      I’m gutted to have missed this, don’t suppose there’s any way of getting a copy of the notes or something from it? Would’ve loved to have been there for it.

    • 8Dave Darby April 16th, 2016

      Possibly – you can ask via the email in the article.

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