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Indie of the Month: Raw Goats’ Milk From ‘Paradise’ Wildcroft Dairy In Puttenham

Published on: 10 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 11 Jul, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

It’s not often you can say you have seen the milk in your tea actually coming from the animal that morning.

But you can at the Wildcroft Dairy, an idyllic 55-acre farm on the side of the Hog’s Back in Puttenham.

The idyllic setting of the Wildcroft Dairy on the side of the Hog’s Back in Puttenham.

Visiting the farm run by Tracey and Graham Longhurst is an experience. Ducks on the pond, a couple of horses grazing in the distance, chickens, pigs and cattle around and, of course, the goats

They have more than 60 goats on the farm including a herd of English Goats, a rare and endangered breed. Their herd said to be the largest in the country.

Tracey was an engaging and enthusiastic companion to chat to as she milked the goats on a sunny Monday morning (July 5).

Milking the goats individually in the converted trailer.

A solicitor and human resources specialist by training, Tracey was the chief executive officer for three years for the Surrey County Show up to 2020. But then the pandemic happened and it was a chance for them to focus on the farm and make a go of it.

Graham works full time in construction but has been around farming most of his adult life. He brings the money in “until we can get it running properly,” said Tracey.

Tracey Longhurst stroking one of her goats at the Wildcroft Dairy.

Why raw milk? Tracey said she was brought up on it. Growing up in Wiltshire, she would bring home a little churn of raw milk every day from a farmer she helped.

“If you Google it, you would think it would kill you. But we test it so much. We are much cleaner than commercial dairies because we have to be. There is less pressure on them because they pasteurise.

Bottling the raw goats’ milk at the Wildcroft Dairy in Puttenham.

“Raw milk has all the goodness left in it including all the enzymes which break the milk down. It helps build up our immune system – in my opinion. You see all these allergies now. It wasn’t like that when I was being brought up.

“You don’t pasteurise breast milk to feed it to your baby and it is accepted that this is the best for baby.”

PG is named after friend Peter Gordon, the well-known Guildford personality, said Tracey because “he likes his food so much”.

All of this dedication means hard work and long hours – 8am to 9pm most nights, seven days a week with one day off a month. “Taking the milk for testing to Sittingbourne fortnightly is a day out for me. But I love it. I couldn’t work for someone else now,” she said.

They have help from Graham’s dad, Brian Longhurst. At a mere 86, and looking 20 years younger, he comes every weekday morning to feed the goats, pigs and cattle.

86-year-old Brian Longhurst said: “You have to keep busy. I haven’t got time for telly. I look after five allotments and do jigsaw puzzles in the evenings.”

It is still very early in their plans. They sell raw goats’ milk, goats’ milk kefir and goats’ milk soap now and the plan to offer goats’ cheese next. “As more milk becomes available, the demand is following,” said Tracey.

Apart from the English breed, they also have Toggenberg goats. The males of a good breed standard, they sell. Tracey said: “We sell others as pets and and any left we sell as meat. Butchers are crying out for goats’ meat.”

It was a thrill to watch Tracey milk – a battle of wits between her and the goats with Tracey trying, successfully, to milk them in an order to suit her testing regime. Tracey won but the goats seemed very relaxed about it all, helped by the bowl of food in the milking parlour.

The goats are very relaxed about milking. The bowl of food helps.

Milking once a day, it takes about two hours to fetch them, milk and then wash down afterwards. Surprisingly, a goat can give up to 3.5 litres a day.

The milk is tested at least every two weeks in a lab at £55 per test. Tracey said: “We have a Defra licence to sell raw goats’ milk. They have their own milk inspector who comes every six months. We have to be very careful.  It would damage our reputation and the reputation of raw milk if we didn’t pass all the tests.”

Tracey, who is trained in the alternative healing method, Reiki, said they have reduced their use of antibiotics by observing the animals and “…catching things really early. We use homeopathic remedies first but if an animal is suffering, we go straight to antibiotics.”

Tracey with one of the increasing number of kids. The goat’s coat is very soft, like a cashmere.

It was a lovely morning spent on a wonderful venture out in rural Puttenham, less than five miles from Guildford. Tracey said: “It’s all an experiment. It isn’t paying yet but we are seeing the demand going up.”

Tracey and Graham Longhurst are a determined, practical and skilled team. It is an experiment I’m sure will work.

You can buy raw goats’ milk, kefir, soap and meat (when available) from Wildcroft Dairy direct from the farm at Wildcroft Dairy, Clear Barn, The Heath, Puttenham GU3 1AL,  or order at Tracey@wildcroftdairy.co.uk or call 07967 249981.

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