The Willises run their 150-strong herd on 390 acres in the north-east of Scotland. They use a paddock-grazing system, whereby the cows move to fresh pasture every 24 hours, and the farm’s sandy loam soil allows them to grow a variety of crops, such as spring barley and peas, to supplement the cows’ diet in winter.
The herd is a mixture of Friesian and Jersey, which creates a good grazer with strong feet and legs that can live a long, healthy life. William’s father started organic conversion around 1998 when he was fed up with poor milk prices. The family knew that they either had to expand the business or become more niche, and the farm has been organic ever since.
They process some of the milk on the farm and have two milk-vending machines and a coffee shop. They also produce ice cream and yoghurt. Their high-quality products and an emphasis on local provenance has created a community of loyal customers.
The balance of the milk goes to the Graham's. The whole operation employs around 25 people.
The family have also planted around 2.6km of hedging, which provides a good environment for wildlife such as birds, insects, foxes, badgers and hedgehogs.