Farmer to become cheese producer with £1.3m dairy complex


Farmer to become cheese producer with £1.3m dairy complex

A dairy farmer whose herd was wiped out in the foot and mouth epidemic has realised his ambition to establish a new herd of Brown Swiss cows and develop a new dairy complex and cheese processing plant.

T Lochhead and Sons, who farm Beyond the Burn between Dumfries and Mouswald in Scotland, have invested £1.3 million in a new dairy complex for 150 cows on a green-field site.

"Mountain Cheese"

The milk will be processed on-farm into what will be branded as Mountain Cheese, with the family firm becoming the only producers of this style of cheese, made from Brown Swiss cows, in the UK.

The initial funding of £1.3m for this venture has come from RBS, with a chunk of that repaid through a Scottish Rural Development Programme grant.

Gavin Lochhead, his wife Jane and son Jonathan are the latest in a long line to run the family business that has been based at Beyond the Burn since the 1920s, and the funding from RBS has enabled them to realise their ambitions to grow and diversify the business.

Lochhead, who produces organic milk, said: "Once we are fully operational, our milk sold as cheese should be worth double what we currently receive."

New jobs

The firm already employed up to three further people throughout the year, and the development has resulted in the creation of new jobs in the area.

It's all a far cry from the dark days of foot-and-mouth when the family, who farm two units totalling 340 acres, saw their herd of 140 wiped out in a cull.

Once the all-clear was given the Lochhead family, who had been working with the breed for 20 years, rebuilt their herd to 140 cows with imported pure-bred cattle from Germany.

The new complex for 150 cows will include a state-of-the-art cubicle house that incorporates three robotic milking machines, a new calf-rearing shed and a new slurry store.

At a time when many SME businesses complain that they cannot source additional funding from banks, Lochhead added: "The funding from RBS will enable us to develop a fantastic product and help to build a successful and sustainable business."

Alex Urquhart, Agricultural and Renewable Energy Manager for RBS in Dumfries commented: "We've worked with Gavin for some time and his professionalism and passion has always been very clear. We're delighted to back his plans and vision for the farm and we hope other businesses will have the confidence to consider investing now."

Partners of the Royal Highland Show since 1981, supporting farmers for generations.

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