Dale Farm is a dairy company with a global reach, owned by a cooperative made up of more than 1,300 dairy farmers in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.
Our farmers don’t just milk the cows, they own the company. That’s why Dale Farm takes great pride in producing dairy products that families know and love. When you buy any Dale Farm product rest assured you are helping support our farmers and their families.
To give you an idea of just how much milk matters to our farmers, we travelled across the country to learn more about them, their farms and what it means to be part of Dale Farm.
The Royal Seal Of Approval – Hugh Harbison – Aghadowey, Coleraine
Hugh Harbison is a third generation farmer hopeful that one day his children will carry on the family tradition.
The Harbison farm has been in Hugh’s family for more than 50 years with his father Thompson taking over the reins at only 16 years. Hugh, youngest of the four, always had an interest in agriculture but was determined to make his own path in life. In 2007 he left home for university in England, studying Agriculture and Farm Business Management.
Three years after graduating and a year spent travelling throughout Australia, Hugh returned home to Aghadowey to work alongside his dad on the 250 acre farm, bringing with him all he had learnt. He never underestimated the level of hard work that wentalong with his career choice, but after working in an office, life on the farm is good, and Hugh is determined to continue to grow the business and take it forward.
The Harbison Farm has been selling its milk to Dale Farm since the farmer cooperative was formed in 1995 – every year their 160 strong herd, produces more than 1.1 million litres of milk, on average 3013 litres per day. For Hugh and his family, being part of Dale Farm, offers stability in what is a very unstable time in the dairy industry. The choice to supply milk to Dale Farm was an easy one because of the growth opportunities with Northern Ireland’s biggest dairy cooperative, and Dale Farm’s expertise in adding value to milk, and commitment to increasing margins for the farmers that supply the milk.
There is a huge amount of heritage and history behind this family farm but one story that will be retold for generations is the year Prince Charles came to visit. In 1997, a visit from the prince followed an award that Hugh’s father had recently won recognising his efforts at conservation work on his land – now that’s a royal seal of approval!
Farm Efficiency At Its Best – George Graham – Kinawley, Fermanagh
Nigel Graham and his father George farm a 70 strong pedigree Holstein Friesian herd in the idyllic countryside of Kinawley, County Fermanagh. From a young age Nigel recalls knowing this was all he wanted to do – it was what he was reared to do.
The farm is third generation owned and Nigel is committed to using his skills learnt at Greenmount Agricultural College to drive his family’s business forward. He enjoys all aspects of farm work but has a strong leaning towards working with the animals and rearing the calves. With the herd milked twice daily, a typical day sees father and son ready for business at 7 a.m. First job is milking, cleaning and bedding cubicles and feeding the animals.
The farm has been supplying milk to Dale Farm since the company was formed and the family feel a huge amount of pride when they see Dale Farm products on shelves at home and abroad. As they see it – when you buy Dale Farm, it’s their milk you’re buying!
After a tough year for the dairy sector how has the Graham farm been affected? For them, it’s been about tightening spend. The family have avoided heavy investment over the past year and a strategy focused on increasing farm efficiency.
“We have really focused on grassland management and we’ve been successful over the past few years being placed second in the Fermanagh Grassland Club grazing management competition. Effective grass management means the cows are more efficient and therefore our farm is more profitable.” Nigel Graham