NUNTON Farm, a family-run dairy farm near Salisbury, has been providing milk to the community for nearly 100 years.

Starting with just 20 cows back in 1929, the farm now looks after around 750 cows on land on the Longford Estate, in addition to supplying three milk vending machines and delivering milk to local cafés.

While this business has expanded significantly over the last century, the team behind Nunton Farm has always focussed on providing fresh, free-range milk to the public.

John Martin, partner of the farm with father Simon, said: “It’s been going really well, there has been lots of demand which means customers can support local businesses while cutting down on food miles, and it tastes great.”

South West Farmer: Dairy farmer John Martin at Nunton FarmDairy farmer John Martin at Nunton Farm

Bright and early

The journey from cow to café is a long process, in place to ensure residents are treated to the finest whole milk, beginning with an early start for the Nunton farmers.

At 4am the cows are collected and brought to the machines in the parlour to be milked.

South West Farmer: The herd arrives at the milking parlourThe herd arrives at the milking parlour

A track network has been built over the years to help farmers, via quad bikes and buggies, and cows travel from field to field.

After their teats are cleaned, the cows can be attached to the milking machines, which transfers the milk to a tank.

Once this stage is completed, usually by around 7.30am, the milk is then pasteurised - a process where the substance is treated with a mild heat to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf life.

South West Farmer: The milk is immediately cooled to three degrees and transfered to milk siloThe milk is immediately cooled to three degrees and transfered to milk silo

Finally, the milk is bottled up and delivered, either to the vending machines in Nunton, Downton and Wilton, or to the signed up cafés.

This part of the day takes between one and two hours.

South West Farmer: Hazel Fitton and Tiny Bawden load milk ready for delivery to local cafésHazel Fitton and Tiny Bawden load milk ready for delivery to local cafés

'Taste the difference'

Participating cafés include Borough Café and Stable and Wick, both in Downton, as well as The Yard in Salisbury.

John says customers have commented on the ways in which Nunton milk transforms hot drinks.

“People can really taste the difference,” he said.

“And it’s great to know where your milk is coming from.We hope to expand and support more independent, local cafés.”

South West Farmer: Lisa Fox at the Borough Café in DowntonLisa Fox at the Borough Café in Downton

Looking after the cows

Talking about the real stars behind the business, who are currently halfway through the calving season, John said: “Without the cows we wouldn’t have a business, it’s so important we look after them as well as we can.

“We get external people to help check and look after them and make sure they are okay.

“Sometimes things do crop up, the cows can get stones in their feet, so we have them checked out and get the vets in.

“We want to make sure they are as healthy as they can be.”

South West Farmer: 314 calves have been born this year at Nunton Farm314 calves have been born this year at Nunton Farm

Feeding time!

After a morning of milking, the cows are returned to the fields and are fed during the day.

Their feeding routines change with the seasons because of grass levels, with not as much scheduled feeding taking place in the summer.

South West Farmer: Cows returning to the pastureCows returning to the pasture

The impact of Covid-19

As with several businesses across and around the area, the farm of course felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but with the vaccine rollout and lockdown relaxation, John is optimistic for the future.

John, who has worked at the farm for around eight years, said there have been clear improvements for the farm since the main impact of the pandemic last summer.

South West Farmer: Calves get fed twice per day at Nunton FarmCalves get fed twice per day at Nunton Farm

Looking ahead

A visionary business, in partnership with the Longford Estate, Nunton Farm is already looking ahead to its next projects, including launching a vending machine in Salisbury, with a location yet to be decided, and providing milk to even more cafés.

“My great-grandfather moved here with around 20 cows, it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come, we’re always expanding,” John added.

Visit the Nunton Farm Facebook page for more information or to contact the farm.

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