When you’ve a huge herd of cows and more milk than you know what to do with what better thing to do than set up a really cool milk vending machine on you farm that serves milkshakes too.
Well that’s what siblings Caroline and James Morgan at Penuchadre Organic Dairy Farm in the Vale of Glamorgan have done since Christmas and so far they have sold thousands of litres of fresh, Welsh milk.
The pair – who are the seventh generation of Morgans to run the farm, near St Brides Major – have been blown away by the popularity of their milk with customers in the surrounding area and its dispensing method, which bucks the trend of dairy farms struggling to sell their products.
An organic farm since 2000, Caroline revealed that it’s always been a dream to do something different with their fresh, Welsh milk – but only after a new milking shed was built three years ago, did they find the time to put their plans into action.
Caroline, who came back to the family farm because she loves dairy farming and cows, said: “I went off to university and I think my dad hoped I’d go into something with a bit more money involved, but dairy industry is where I wanted to come back to. Even in uni I would think to myself I wanted to do something with our milk… maybe a milk round or making cheese or ice cream. But the opportunity didn’t really arise for a while as we were milking in a very old milkshed and we’re milking seven-and-a-half hours a day.
“Then when we put a brand new milking parlour we found we had time on our hands and we looked into doing something different.”
Caroline and the family love their cows so much that each one at Penuchadre named, now locals are the ones falling in love with the milk the cows produce – and not only can you get fresh, whole paturised milk for tea, coffee, cereal – or whatever you do with your llaeth – there’s a real treat in going to the milk vending machine, fresh chocolate or strawberry milkshakes.
“The pandemic gave us the push to do it,” added Caroline. “We saw the push to buy local and people asking where can we get local bread and milk and so we ordered the machine.
“That was in April and it took until Christmas to get all the boxes ticked because we had to become a food manufacturer because we pasteurise the milk, also the machines are popular so there was quite a long waiting list.”
But the wait paid off. “We were not prepared for this sort of reaction,” added Caroline. “In our business plan we hoped to sell 100 litres a day, we’d top it all up every morning and it would be job done. But on an average weekday we’re selling 450 litres and on a weekend 600 litres.
“We’re looking at, in a month, 13,000 litres.”
James and Caroline have an app on their phones too, to tell them if the machine is getting low in stock, and filling up the vending machine is now part-and-parcel of their everyday farm tasks.
“Small dairy farms are either get bigger or go out.,” said Caroline, who, with James, is doing what their grandparents and great-grandparents were doing across the generation – selling milk to locals.
“We managed to stay a family dairy farm and increase our profits by….selling milk to people in the local area – which is a bit crazy.
“Dad loves the fact that we’re selling the milk and people love it, but he also loves the fact that he has nothing to do with it as well
“He gets blown away by how much milk we’re getting through. He said said we’re almost going back in time, a local farm providing locals with milk.”