Last Friday looked "bleak" for Holy Cow.
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Qhawe Sibanda delivers essential Holy Cow milk to Taste Nature in Dunedin. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

The family dairy farm in Reynoldstown, near Port Chalmers in Dunedin, lost about 70% of its customers as restaurants and cafes closed for the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, and no longer needed their usual milk orders.

Owner Merrall MacNeille was left wondering: “What am I going to do with all this milk?”

However, business quickly took an unexpected turn.

Remaining customers started to increase their orders and while the Holy Cow farm shop had to close to comply with Ministry for Primary Industries restrictions, and to protect the farm from the virus, the ministry also approved another shop to be opened just under a kilometre away.

That meant Holy Cow had remained “as busy as [it] could be” during lockdown, and no milk would be thrown away.

“That is all we can ask for,” Mr MacNeille said.

Dairy farming has been deemed an essential service for food and beverage production by the Government, as services where work cannot be deferred for four weeks, for reasons including animal welfare, will need to continue.

Strict health protocols had to be brought in, including 2m distancing between staff and increased hand washing, and Mr MacNeille said he would remain in lockdown at his farm.

Not much had changed for the Jersey cows, which would still listen to classical music while they were milked.

There had even been new additions to the herd: three calves were born last week and another on Wednesday.

A former Fonterra consultant and a molecular biologist have teamed up to create lab-grown milk proteins without the need for a cow.

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