A FORMER dairy farmer has changed the direction of his farming business by diversifying into goat milk production.
Jonathan Robertshaw, of Bush Farm, Grewelthorpe, has made the switch thanks to a grant from Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme, delivered by the Rural Development Service.
"Our family has been in farming for five generations and we wanted to do something that continued the tradition. We needed to diversify but we didn't want to leave agriculture, so to switch from one form of milk production to another was very appealing," explained Mr Robertshaw..
"Goat farming was a viable and more lucrative alternative to dairy - and the more we researched it the more feasible it became.
"With the help of a grant from Defra we began the work to convert our farm buildings and buy new milking equipment. We've gradually built up the numbers to the current 400 animals, and began to produce milk on a small scale after the nanny goats produced kids in February and March this year. We're now producing commercial quantities of the milk.
"We're very grateful to Defra for helping us to transform the idea into reality."
The goats are British Saanen, British Toggenburg and British Alpine - breeds renowned for the consistently high quality of their milk.
Some of the milk from Bush Farm ends up being made into cheese, butter and yoghurt.
Lee McQue from Defra's Rural Development Service said: " We're delighted to be able to help Jonathan to make the transition from cows' milk to goats' milk production. This is an excellent diversification project that will ensure that the Robertshaws remain on the family farm and stay involved in agriculture. We wish them every success in their new business."