Quality milk from a low energy system

Climate change is a real issue for Hampshire dairy farmer James Hague and his customers. He and his wife Helen established a milk round from their 48ha (120-acre) farm near Basingstoke two years ago, bottling milk under the Daisy’s brand from the 60 strong herd.

“From day one we stressed that our milk is local, with a low carbon foot or hoof print. On average it travels just eight miles from the farm to the doorstep,” says Mr Hague.

Mr Hague has sought to reduce the carbon footprint of the milk at all stages of its production and processing.

“Our milk is not homogenised because the process is very energy intensive. It also means the milk tastes better and has a better texture.”

Bottles are also used because over their lifetime their carbon footprint is a third of that of plastic containers, with a bottle used 25 times before being recycled.

Before Mr Hague took on the tenancy of Lyde Green Farm four years ago he was a consultant with The Kingshay Farming Trust. He has used his expertise to develop a low-energy production system. The farm now no longer grows any maize or buys in any soya, using wheat and oilseed meal as straights instead. The main source of feed is home-grown grass.

“The system is an extensive one, with the cows yielding only 6000-6500 litres a year. We will soon have completed a reseeding programme sowing deep-rooting hybrid ryegrasses that reduce the need for cultivation, improve soil structure and reduce erosion.”

Mr Hague believes that by using inputs strategically he can produce a milk that has a much lower carbon footprint than organic milk. Through good grass husbandry, the farm now only averages a nitrogen application of 150kg/ha a year.

The quality and localness of Daisy’s milk has proved a hit with local customers. While Mr Hague expects demand to dip a little due to price cutting by supermarkets and a more uncertain economy, he believes there will be enough customers who are convinced that his locally produced milk is best.

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