Cream of Galloway: lessons in sustainable farming

Whilst up in Scotland a couple of weekends back I took the opportunity to add an extra day for a visit to Cream of Galloway, David and Wilma Finlay’s farm at Rainton near Castle Douglas. I had been introduced to the farm by the Sustainable Food Trust, who were keen to have some images of the farm to use in a blog feature later this year.

The farm has been organic for around 20 years and the Finlays have also been exploring new ways of producing food in a more ethical and sustainable way. A significant portion of their acreage has been developed into a nature reserve, open to the public and with a terrific visitor centre. The nature reserve is stunning, even in wintry March when I visited.

The farm is equally beautiful to stroll around, with the dry stone walls being maintained in excellent condition. My visit coincided with lambing and both ewes and newborns are kept outside for the benefit of their health rather than the farmer’s convenience.

The farm’s most innovative effort to date took place 3 years ago, when they ran a trial to permit calves to remain with their mothers for up to 6 months after birth. This dramatically reduced stress on the animals and improved their health as well as facilitating significantly more rapid growth in the calves.

Following a break to assess the full impact of the trial, and to instigate systems to enable it to be re-introduced on a commercially viable platform, it is hoped to recommence the approach later this year. Unfortunately, it being early March in Scotland, the dairy herd was still wintering inside during my visit, but I hope to make a return journey later in the year to capture the “contented cows” on the land.

Cream of Galloway farmClose up monochrome new born lamb sleeping Sheep field and gorse at Cream of Galloway farmCute newborn lamb in field Nature reserve at Cream of Galloway farmTree reflection in pond Galloway