David and Wilma Finlay transitioned Rainton Farm to organic dairy production in the late 1990s. Having watched their pastures respond well to organic methods, they have continued to harness natural processes for productivity and biodiversity gains. Most notably, the Finlays have pioneered cow-with-calf dairy farming at scale, and Rainton is thought to be the largest cow-with-calf farm in Europe. This approach means that the calves at Rainton Farm stay with their mothers to suckle naturally till around 5-6 months of age, before gradual weaning.
The herd of around 130 cows are a three-way cross of Swedish Red, Holstein and Montbeliard, calving in two blocks, in November/December and April/May. While the calves are suckling, the cows are milked just once a day, and once weaned they're milked twice a day in Rainton's auto-tandem parlour.
Milk from Rainton Farm is used mainly in on-site food production, Cream o' Galloway ice cream and The Ethical Dairy's range of traditional cheeses. Fresh milk is available to buy on-site at Cream o' Galloway Visitor Centre. Farm tours take place regularly, and the owners frequently host visits by academic researchers and other farmers.
As well as certified organic, Rainton Farm is 100% Pasture For Life certified, and has been independently audited as being Net Zero. In 2022 David and Wilma wrote and published a book titled A Dairy Story about their journey from conventional dairy farming to organic, pasture-fed, cow-with-calf dairy.