Ending the production of raw milk was a hard decision for Gordonton dairy farmers Graham and Rebecca Barlow.
“We love the concept, we love the idea and we would have liked to have given it more time but it wasn’t sustainable from a business sense,” Rebecca told N8N.
The couple began producing raw milk from their farm on Piako Rd last September, working with Nelson company Village Milk from which they bought an Italian automatic vending machine. The couple stopped producing the unpasteurised milk in April.
“It was a combination of factors. We weren’t selling as much as we had hoped. The work and time required to maintain the standards needed was more than we could have foreseen when we started.”
Raw milk requires a substantial amount of preparation before milking to ensure the milk is clean and safe, followed by filtering, refrigeration and finally the filling of a glass bottle from the dispenser.
Another complication was that they had installed milking robots but these were incompatible with the raw milk operation – something they had been unaware of.
“This meant we had to put some cows through the herringbone, and some were going through the robots. We would then have to stop the robots for an hour and milk the cows – it just didn’t work. In time we could have sorted this, but it was just one more thing to deal with.”
The vending machine has been sold back to Village Milk and the couple are continuing to supply Fonterra.
“We feel sorry for our customers because there were so many who loved the product – who needed and wanted it and were giving us amazing feedback. We would have loved to have kept going but there came a point where we had to say we couldn’t do it anymore.”