Timaru's Glenwillow Farm, and secondary business Real Milk Timaru, is one South Canterbury business working through the lockdown.
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JOHN BISSET/STUFF Timaru's Andrea Weir milks a cow at Glenwillow Farm on Saturday morning. Her husband Stu says milk sales have increased by about 10 per cent during lockdown.

Today Samesh Mohanlall talks to its owners as part of a series on local producers and manufacturers.

Timaru dairy farmers Stu and Andrea Weir have experienced increased demand for their product since the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown began in March.

The Weirs run their 220 cow operation from Glenwillow Farm on Fairview Rd, with their main business a contract to supply dairy co-operative Fonterra.

“We are going fine,” Stu Weir told Stuff.

“The cows of course are totally unaware of anything going on and its business as usual for us and all other dairy farmers.”

He said farmers in general, were used to operating in “our own bubble anyway, and apart from supplies coming into the farm we pretty much carry on as normal”.

The farm’s main business is a contract to supply dairy co-operative Fonterra, he said.

Real Milk Timaru, the couple’s secondary business, where the farm supplies fresh unpasteurised milk to customers, , has seen more people seeking their product in recent weeks.

“Our sales have probably increased by 10 per cent at this point since lockdown started. Our main farm supply carries on as normal,” Stu Weir said.

Milk pick ups from Fonterra continue with regularity as with all dairy farms, Weir said.

“With our milk deliveries our vending machine we have on site here, the demand has increased from the general public.”

The Weirs also deliver the milk to customers within the Timaru area.

He said Real Milk’s delivery service and farm supply presented a safer option for people who needed milk during these uncertain times.

“Deliveries have increased for people who can’t get out during the lockdown because we’re able to deliver door-to-door. Obviously they contact us, they pay online and we deliver to their door.

“I guess it takes lot of supermarket visits out of the equation.”

Weir’s grandparents starting milking cows on Glenwillow farm in 1952 and while there have been a few changes along the way the farm has remained the same, he said.

“Traditionally we ran a mainstream cow farm milking all year round.

“We milk predominantly a Holstein-Friesan herd with 220 cows milked for the summer season and 160 for the winter season.”

Weir said the pair started the business after they realised there was a gap in the South Canterbury market that needed to be filled.

The business began as a Village Milk franchise but this was short-lived after the Ministry for Primary Industries changed regulations about business ownership, giving way to Real Milk Timaru, he said.

“We noticed over the past 10 years that more people were wanting fresh milk non-pasteurised and non-homogenised.

“We set-up in a franchise with Village Milk. This involved milking a small herd of cows separately and they get special treatment with cleaning and milking preparation.

“The franchise had to be disbanded and we rebranded as Real Milk Timaru.”

Real Milk Timaru employs two casual milkers, Weir said.

The giant Holstein cow with spots arranged as a map of the world is designed to celebrate the farmer-owned cooperative’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

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