Real Milk a real winner in Timaru

Real Milk a real winner in Timaru
Glenwillow Farm owners Andrea and Stuart Weir are in their sixth season supplying fresh milk direct to consumers.

Glenwillow Farm in Timaru is building a new cow shed with retail shop to give capacity to a growing sideline business, Real Milk Timaru.
Farm owners Andrea and Stuart Weir are in their sixth season supplying fresh, non-pasteurised, and non-homogenised milk direct to consumers.
They started the business after a number of people enquired at their farm about buying milk.
Real Milk Timaru has grown steadily and now accounts for about 10% of their business.
Initially the couple bought into the Village Milk franchise, which gave them the systems and processes to sell their products.
But when government regulations tightened, every provider had to be registered with the Ministry of Primary Industries so it made sense to start their own brand.
Their milk is dispensed via vending machines in the retail shop with customers serving themselves and paying via the machine as well.
They are open to selling products from other producers, such as honey, but say it must also be able to be sold via the vending machine.
“We are primarily farmers, not shop keepers, so the system works well,” explains Stuart who also delivers milk three days a week around Timaru.
He says their milk has been popular with customers citing perceived health benefits as a major driver.
The Weirs keep 15 of their cows separate, which are milked once a day, for Real Milk Timaru.

Real Milk a real winner in Timaru
PHOTOS: The Weir’s Real Milk Timaru is dispensed via vending machines in the retail shop. Their new dairy shed, a parallel parlour with DeLaval plant, will be the first in the South Island.

These cows, which are typically their lowest somatic cell count cows and lower end producers, are milked before the main herd.
They are hand washed, iodine teat sprayed and hand dried before the cups are put on.
Their milk is tested every week for consistency and bacteria count.
Stuart says the aim is to continue to grow this Real Milk a real winner in Timaru Karen Phelpsthriving business, which spreads mainly via word of mouth:
“The price doesn’t change with the global dairy market. We are adding value and it gives us more control over our business,” he says.
Their new milk shed will be an unusual design for New Zealand, a parallel parlour with DeLaval plant.
There are only two others in the country and this will be the first for the South Island, says Stuart, who first saw the design online.
“We didn’t want a rotary because we needed a cleaner shed because of Real Milk Timaru. This new shed has a pan that runs the length of the pit for effluent so nothing goes onto the floor of the shed. With automatic cup removers we only need one staff member. It is also a rapid exit shed as the head bail lifts up and the cows just walk forwards and out.”
As their current shed has parts which date back to the 1940s, when Stuart’s grandparents started the farm, he says the new shed will mark a big improvement in herd management, health and efficiency.
The couple farm 100ha with 200 holstein friesian cows. They winter milk around 160.
Both Stuart and Andrea are hands on farmers and typically work 10-hour days starting at 6am each morning for the milking.
They calve at the end of February to give a winter supply herd for Fonterra and Real Milk.
No bobby calves are sent off the farm – all of their calves are either replacement heifers or beef cross calves sold on for the beef industry.
Another recent change is to contract out their fodder beet production.
This will free up land for grazing and Stuart says due to heavy soils it was also problematic harvesting the fodder beet grown on their own land during winter.
They also feed brewers grain and high quality lucern silage they buy in along with silage grown on farm.
They are also presently safeguarding their water supply, building a 170 metre deep well.
This will replace their water take from Salt Water Creek, which runs through the farm and give them greater water security over the summer months.
They presently irrigate around 60ha of the farm with centre pivots and k-line and hope to increase this area.
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