FOR years, UK dairy farmers have complained that supermarkets are squeezing the life out of their industry.

Now, an organic farm in Oxfordshire is challenging that narrative – and the supermarkets.

North Aston Dairy has created a business model in which the whole process, from milking to doorstep delivery, is provided by the company.

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But perhaps more surprising is how eager cows are are to take their place inside the milking room, where William Spray rewards them with a treat of granulated food before beginning an operation of cleaning, milking and disinfecting a dozen cows twice a day.

As well as those 12, the 45 hectare farm has about 10 calves and two milking cows who are resting due to advanced pregnancy.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Spray explains: “Our milking cows live to 15 years – nearly 10 years longer than those in industrial farms, which are slaughtered at the age of about six.

“Nine months of every year they spend outside on grass; for another three we have to keep them in the barn and feed with haylage.

“They also have their adventures: from time to time they run away and you can spend an hour running after them.

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“I don’t know why, but they do it on my shifts mostly. I often find them next to the bull herd owned by the man we rent the land from.”

Founded in 2006, North Aston Dairy now produces between 180 and 250 litres of organic milk a day.

On Tuesdays and Fridays milk is pasteurised, bottled and delivered to customers’ doorsteps in a small area covering the town of Deddington and several surrounding villages.

Oxford Mail:

Whole milk, semi-skimmed milk, cream and yoghurt are delivered in glass bottles and jars, which customers then return to be reused, helping limit the farm's impact on the environment.

The farm also makes ice cream in several flavours, which is sold in paper or reusable containers.

Retired cows and calves reaching the age of one year are slaughtered, so a small part of North Aston Dairy’s revenue comes from selling fresh and frozen beef and rose veal.

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Mr Spray explained that, unlike many farms whose owners are are forced to sell their products at prices dictated by supermarkets, North Aston controls its production, processing and distribution.

The loyal customers who appreciate organic produce are willing to pay slightly more for each pint in order to avoid plastic packaging and ensure the low-carbon footprint of their cup of tea.

To make it even greener, with each monthly invoice customers get their Annual Meat Footprint: each litre of diary consumed equals to 15 grams of meat.