Matt Baker, Anita Rani and Helen Skelton tell the story of cattle in this themed programme. Matt spends the day with a young beef farmer.
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They have been part of man's story since prehistoric times.
I'm not embarrassed to say I am a bit of a cow geek
Anita is getting a taste for raw milk.
Charlotte is looking at the changing face of dairy farming.
And Adam is here with the first of this year's nominees
They are an important part of our history,
Nearly 2,000,000 dairy cows provide the UK with milk.
1.5 million make up our national beef herd.
Now, you are quite possibly the most important animal
providing food, clothing and fertiliser.
Farming cattle is as old as the hills that they graze on.
24-year-old Jack Stillwell from West Sussex
has been obsessed with cows since he was a boy.
But it wasn't until he was at agricultural college
that he realised he was going to need more than his summer job wages
asking complete strangers to donate cash
His initiative earned him a Young Farmer of the Year award.
Morning, Jack. Morning. How are you doing, mate? Nice to see you.
Good to see you. You all right? Yeah, very well, thank you. Good.
It's quite a story, this, isn't it, of how you actually got the money
and how you've got to be where you are today?
As this thing was kind of progressing, how were you feeling?
Was it like, "Yeah, this is it. It's going to start. It's happening."?
I really had no idea I was going to get it.
and everything started to fall into place.
There have been people that have been a bit sceptical,
but you are always going to get that with something new.
And I think there's a lot of people who would never have heard of it.
It is new to the business world, let alone the farming world. Yes.
So, the idea that somebody is asking for money can raise a few
eyebrows but, once people understand it and get to grips with it,
everyone has been on board, so it's been a journey, definitely.
And is it better than you thought it would be?
I mean, this is the world that you are in now.
You must be just loving it. Yeah. I am enjoying it very much.
I'm not embarrassed to say I am a bit of a cow geek
And what we are doing now, feeding them, that makes me happy.
That's one of my favourite things in the world.
It sounds pretty cheesy, a bit corny, but I'm all right with that.
In return for the donations, Jack promised to keep people
up-to-date with his progress via social media.
He used the ?4,000 to buy ten Hereford
Just six months on, his herd is now nearly 250 strong,
spread over three sites across the South Downs,
So these are the first ones you bought, then? Yes.
These heifers here are what I initially purchased
So, it's nice to see it all coming full circle.
So, these are all in calf to my Hereford bull here.
He's a beauty, isn't he? Yeah, I'm very happy with him.
And how old was he when you got him, then?
and then he went to work almost straight away.
So this will be the first time, then, that you've actually calved?
Yeah. Up to now I buy them in as calves,
but I've never actually calved my own,
so this will be another learning curve.
The next new experience. It's exciting times.
Yeah, it's very good. I'm looking forward to it.
Though Jack works pretty much on his own,
he reaches thousands of people worldwide
using the internet to post his photos of British farming.
So, we are going to take a snap and see how much interest we get by
the end of the day, measured by the number of people who like the photo.
If you kneel down next to him. Yeah, all right. Do that?
That's good. It works? Right, now just do one of him and put him up.
Seems Jack has already decided who is going to get more likes.
You going to put that one up, are you? Yeah. That's a cracker.
That should do really well. All right, then.
Launch that one and we'll see what kind of reaction it gets.
OK, good. Now, with low milk prices in the headlines recently,
whether intensive dairy farming is the way forward.
and many of us imagine cattle grazing in green pastures.
Most cows are kept inside just during the winter,
but now up to one fifth of the milk we produce in this country
comes from cows which don't graze in fields at all.
In fact, they are kept inside all year round.
this intensive style of farming has been practised abroad for decades.
A few years ago, Adam visited an American mega-dairy,
The scale of this farming operation is absolutely enormous.
You can't see any of the cows cos they're all indoors.
We've never gone as far as that in the UK,
but a growing number of our dairy farmers
have started to keep their herds indoors.
Now, as many as 15% to 20% of our dairy cows
Many farmers are doing this to produce more milk,
which might help as the dairy crisis bites.
It's estimated that every day a dairy farmer goes out of business.
So, in tough times, is the answer to keep cows inside all year round?
One obstacle is the public's perception
and their concern for animal welfare.
So what is it like for cows to be under cover
That's more than 12 times the size of the average UK herd.
He was one of the first farmers in Britain
to start rearing his herd indoors on the scale.
Do you worry about keeping cows inside?
We need to just do the best for them with their bedding,
with their feeding, with their health,
so our barns are designed to provide the cows with comfortable
lying area because cows lie down for about 14 hours a day.
so there is plenty of room to move around in
and just providing an environment so our cows can behave as naturally
as they can in a farming environment.
Many people will watch this and they won't like what they see.
Potentially, but that's... We are not hiding away.
and I don't think it matters whether they are in a barn or outside.
Cows don't have some imagination of where they want to live.
I personally think my cows are happy.
Their happiness comes from being looked after and feeling safe.
Are you proud of your farm? Immensely proud.
I'm immensely proud of my great-grandmother who started it all
Today, this dairy produces enough milk for 200,000 UK consumers
I think that's actually quite a lot to be proud of.
with this style of keeping cattle as Neill.
Compassion In World Farming would like to see all dairy herds
but Neil is so confident in the welfare of his cows,
he has invited them on to his farm to have a look around.
The farmer clearly cares about his cows.
It's a shame he doesn't let them outside.
So it is the system that you object to? What's wrong with it?
They wouldn't naturally have to sit in rows like this.
Naturally they would be out on fields
sitting at different spacings from each other,
well away from walkways that are covered in manure and urine.
wet fields in the rain even in the spring.
Yes, indeed, and some of the best systems give them the choice.
So if you took this farm and you opened it out at the far end,
and you let them out into fields, they can go in when they want,
So is that your objection generally - that cows just can't do
That is one of our objections. We would like to give the cows choices.
is that where they're not incredibly well managed,
You get a high risk of loneliness. You will often get,
because of the very high yields of some of these cows, emaciated cows.
There are very mixed views on the issues associated with
keeping cows in year-round but the big question is - is it worth it?
The amount of milk one cow can produce has more than
doubled in the last 50 years from an average of 3,500 litres
a year in 1963 to about 7,500 litres today.
Cows kept inside like this are fed this highly nutritious food.
And here is where that really starts to show.
It just means that you can milk more cows a lot more quickly.
Now, here on Neil's farm, these cows produce
an average of 11,000 litres of milk per cow per year.
And surely when dairy farms are struggling,
But producing more milk doesn't make Neil immune to
He's seen the value of his milk drop more than a fifth in just
over a year from 30 pence a litre in 2014 to 23 pence today.
Do you think that the economies of scale mean that you can
survive at that price, perhaps longer than other farmers?
Well, I'd hope we can do more than survive, really.
but I guess the investment we've put in over the years is going to
help us to continue to prosper in these really difficult times.
but indoor-intensive farms aren't easy to establish.
They can take years to set up at huge cost and, even then,
some farmers that have done it have gone under.
On the face of it, while milk prices are low,
it might seem like the obvious solution to bring cows indoors all
year, produce more milk and so make more money but it's not that simple.
So later on I'll be finding out if, instead,
it's possible to increase the value of the milk you're selling.
Cattle not only give us milk and meat, there's also the leather.
In its transition from beast to brogues, it takes quite a hiding.
Within these walls, craftsmen work the raw material in the same
And this is where the process begins, these are the raw hides...
and this is the first part of their journey to becoming lovely
Bakers in East Devon is Britain's last traditional oak-bark tannery.
They've been using oak-bark liquor to turn skin into
leather on this site since Roman times.
It's been run by Andrew Parr's family for the last 150 years.
Andrew's going to take me through the whole process,
from raw hide to world-renowned, top-quality leather.
Yup, well, we've been through the first process, which is
the liming process, to de-hair the hides.
And they've come down now to Roger, where he's just finishing them off.
So any short hair that's left on the hide,
he's taking off with the de-hairing tool over the beam.
So where do these hides come from, then, Andrew?
These are all local hides, so they've all come
It's a good beef-growing area, lots of grass around here.
And so from good-quality beef, you get some good quality hides.
We only do beef cattle here because, with cows, they have a calf
and obviously we're wanting stuff without stretched skin.
We don't want stretch in the leather.
So we're just looking for the very best beef hide.
So you're basically using something that wouldn't have any
stretch marks, so to speak, in human terms. Yes.
That's right, that one's a black-and-white.
That's the pigment in the skin and, gradually, as it starts tanning,
within two or three weeks, that will disappear altogether.
So when it comes out, it'll be a uniform biscuit-brown colour
and that's part of sort of the secret or magic.
Once they've been cleaned, the real alchemy takes place.
The hides are suspended in bits of the tanning solution.
This is what we call the new tan yard. The new tan yard?
Yeah, it's about 100 years old, so it's still new...to us.
These hides here have been in for about six months.
They've got another six months to go.
And what we're doing here is just strengthening up the tan liquor
and we're putting the hides back in with oak bark,
so that oak bark is going to feed the liquor.
This is my favourite kind of science.
The guys are just sort of chucking in a couple of handfuls of oak.
It's very precise. This oak is mostly from Wales
and some of it comes from the Lake District.
It is a by-product of the timber industry.
Most of this is what we call coppice oak,
so they'll use the main wood for charcoal.
so nothing is wasted in the timber business, a bit like with the hides.
Everybody else is using chemicals, why are you using oak still?
It's very hard-wearing, it's got very high tensile strength
and it actually looks beautiful when it's finished.
The hides are soaked for a whole year before they're
there are still a few of nature's imperfections to iron out.
and we go down through the bottom edge like that. It just gets
out that hump, you know, the humps you've got in it
I feel a bit nervous because this is such a precious material
and commodity, I don't want to mark it or ruin it.
So why do you add the oil to it? We put it on to look after it.
and I guess, in the same way you look after your own skin...
Yes, that's right, yeah, yeah, it is, yeah.
It's like a protection thing. Nourishes it?
And how long will you leave it hanging for?
For six days... Six days. ..we will hang it up for, yeah.
how do you know which one is at which stage of the drying process?
Have you got like a spreadsheet or something somewhere?
No. Is it all up here? Yeah, yeah, all up here.
After the years... I've been here for 40 odd years.
Really ironically, I can remember leading calves as a child
After being oiled, it's off to be rollered by Jeff.
Jeff, this is an incredible piece of machinery.
It's not the newest or most contemporary piece of kit, is it?
Rolling the leather compacts the natural fibres.
This not only toughens it but also means moisture can't get in,
Then finally it gets stained. That's James' job today.
and what seems like quite a loving process, James, is that fair?
I'm one of those lucky people that really look forward to
getting up and going to work in the morning.
You can see that you're making a difference.
You know, there is a product at the end of it.
You've got to be patient in this leather-making game, haven't you?
these hides from the West Country are shipped all over the world
to become high-end shoes, bags and equestrian goods.
But we dropped in on a craftsman a little closer to home who's
My name's John Hagger and I've been working with leather for 25 years.
My grandfather was a leather guilder,
The tools that I use are the same tools that have been
used by leather makers, by leather crafters for generations.
Because it's tanned with oak, that gives me a leather that is not
only very durable and strong but it's also supple.
And because of the hand-dyeing process, it's not uniform.
I like to know... In fact, I NEED to know where the leather comes from.
I feel like I have a responsibility to my customer to know where
There's no part of that leather belt or that leather bag
What I love is creating something of beauty
Finely-crafted leather is one use for precious hides...
..but there's another even finer purpose.
She's a botanical artist from Hertfordshire.
A key feature of her beautifully detailed work is that she
chooses to paint on a very special surface.
and drawing on for thousands of years and it's made from calf skin.
It can also be made from goats and sheep
but the best stuff comes from calves.
I think because it's such an organic material, it's so natural
and it fits with the subjects that I enjoy painting.
And a sense that this surface or support has been around for
thousands and thousands of years and it will carry on being around.
It will outlast both of us but I'm also working
and yet bringing together something which can be quite
contemporary in terms of its layout and its application today.
So, for me, it very much connects past, present, future.
It's got quite a lot of symbolism in it, really.
How does it work differently to paper?
The paint actually sits on the surface of the vellum,
it doesn't sink in in the way that it would into paper.
There's something else about the vellum which is its organic quality
and if you have a look at the piece I've got here,
which has got quite a lot of veining.
Here you can see veining that's very much echoing some of these
shapes, so there's something about the markings here that
Gael buys her vellum from the firm of William Cowley's
in Buckinghamshire. They've been making vellum for 180 years
and are now the only supplier left in the UK.
I've come with Gael to meet the manager, Paul Wright, who's going
The firm made the news recently when Parliament threatened to end
the thousand-year-old practice of writing new laws on vellum.
This piece here, this is a manuscript vellum
and it's very white. We've taken all of the pigment out of the skin.
This would be used by calligraphers and illuminators.
Really used for very high-end documents.
When Prince William married, the Queen signed what is called
which will in turn become a national document.
This will be something we'll look back on in 2,000 years' time plus.
Anything where you're sort of saying,
"OK, then, the document is of personal or national importance,"
So, Gael, what are you looking for when you come to get your vellum?
So sometimes I will have in my mind's eye a subject that
I want to paint on this and think which skin is going to work
with the subject that I'm going to be doing and other times
I will see a skin and decide it's not what I've come to buy
but I have to have it, it has to leave here in the car with me.
This is typically talking to me about some quite complex
So something like a very complex dried hydrangea.
This is where the artwork starts, in many ways.
Because each piece of vellum has a unique DNA profile,
some internationally renowned artists are working on it
Well, a modern artist buys a vellum,
keeps a small piece of it, does the work and off it goes and if someone
in 20 years' time says, "I've got the original,"
There's a magical atmosphere in the stockroom.
raw animal skins create a different kind of atmosphere.
I do love the way that waft comes out as you open the door,
like, "Whoa!" It's an intense smell.
Obviously, these are all hand-selected skins
from the abattoir. So this is a by-product?
Nothing is killed for its skin, it's killed for its meat.
We can go through 500 and walk away with 50.
After four weeks in a caustic bath to remove the hair,
the skins are stretched on frames to dry.
Then Lee gets to work crafting the finished article.
Hi, Lee. Hiya. Tell me what you're doing to this.
Basically, I'm trying to take this grain layer off the skin,
the outer layer where the hair was on the animal.
And I'm just removing that to get a nice white finish for a manuscript.
So, Lee, how many people in the world can do this job?
In this country, it's just me at the moment.
I understand there's a couple of others in the world.
Production stops for a little while. But, touch wood, I don't get sick.
How difficult is what you are doing? What is this? This is a lune.
It's a very sharp blade and we're just using it to just
scrape away as much of the layer as possible.
All right, I think the stance is very important. It is, yes.
Ouch, cramp. Hang on. I'm going to mess this up.
There's actually something really satisfying about it as well,
You've got quite a few to get through
and I think you're much better at it than me, obviously.
As well as the satisfaction of knowing that every new
act of Parliament is written on vellum he's crafted,
with pride to see Gael take the vellum he's produced
I'm going to do my best not to ruin a perfectly good calfskin.
Imagine that you're stroking the paint onto the actual petal itself.
That's lovely. I'm in the zone. You're really good at this!
I don't know about that but there we go.
I followed your lines as neatly as I could and, yeah,
the good news is I've done it, the bad news is it's going to be
here for thousands and thousands of years.
Now, earlier we asked whether intensive dairy production is
the way for farmers to survive the current crisis over milk prices.
But as Charlotte's been finding out, it's by no means the only choice.
Making money out of milk is harder now than it has been for years.
But not everyone thinks that more intensive production is the answer.
What other options do dairy farmers have to get them
Some people think the answer is to go big.
Others feel we should be going in the opposite direction,
He thinks the dairy industry could be missing a trick.
By playing to its strengths, he spies an opportunity.
Neil, you've spotted what you think is a gap in the market
which could help dairy farmers, what is it?
Well, it's all about this that we're looking at here today.
It's called free-range milk, which is basically based on a commitment
by farmers to graze their cows for six months of the year in fields.
So who comes up with a definition that that is free-range milk?
I have worked with others to build a definition.
governing free-range milk production.
First of all, freedom for cows to graze,
a fair award to farmers and a more informed choice for the consumer.
The idea is to return a few more pence per litre to the farmer.
price-wise it will be pitched between standard and organic milk.
Isn't there an implied criticism, at least, here?
Aren't you saying, "Actually, this is the best way to do things,"
far better than, for instance, keeping cows in all year?
Well, we're not out to criticise anybody
but I think if we are to avoid milk becoming nothing more than
a cheap white-water commodity, we have to start to differentiate milk
differentiating the way in which we farm.
Most people actually think their milk comes from cows in fields
but, increasingly, less and less milk does.
And we want people to be able to make that choice.
Farmers at the moment are forced to compete one another
out of business to see who can deliver it the cheapest
but if we can instil the real value in that milk,
we believe we can command a higher price.
Well, free-range may be a new concept for milk
but it isn't in other parts of the industry.
More than half the eggs we buy in Britain today are free-range.
Supermarkets might be open to other free-range products
Marketing expert Dr Fiona Spotswood
believes this new idea might be here to stay.
I think if you look at how free-range eggs have taken off
and become very normal now, there's no reason why certain
consumers wouldn't take on the idea of free-range milk.
At the moment things are really bad for dairy farmers
Can they market their way out of this crisis?
I think marketing is a really powerful way of adding value
If they can encourage consumers to feel like they are making
meaningful choices, then there's no reason why
a little bit more on products. In the future, customers might bring
and use that free-range label to sort of show off a little bit
to their neighbours when they invite them round for coffee.
Phil Brooke from Compassion in World Farming
also thinks there's mileage in free-range milk.
The public expect cows to be kept outside.
They'd be horrified if they were kept inside all of the time
but it doesn't say so on the label, so they don't know.
There should be a picture of these cows on the label
and if it's from a free-range farm, a picture of cows outside.
The consumers would know what they were getting and I think we'd find
people paying a bit more for kinder milk from cows given more choices.
free-range milk will become a staple on our supermarket shelves.
will it alienate some dairy farmers, like Neil who I met earlier?
so what does he make of free-range milk?
Do you see that as a threat to you? Certainly not a threat, no.
I'm unsure what it is. We just need to be wary.
Does anybody know what free-range dairy is any more than
So that's something we need to know but certainly not a threat.
Isn't there an implied criticism of what you do in free-range milk?
I don't know, is there? Potentially, I suppose.
But I think it's not that much different.
They're still looking after the cows,
but anything that adds value to the dairy chain without causing
harm to another sector of it has got to be a good thing.
There's no doubt British dairy farmers are in the midst
of one of their toughest times ever and there are no easy solutions.
on the future for British dairy farming.
You can contact us via the website...
or join the conversation on Twitter. We're...
Britain has long been regarded the stockyard of the world.
Our bulls have populated herds from Aberdeen to Argentina for decades
but the humble cow has changed considerably over the years.
Bulls in particular have changed through the decades.
meet the shifting demands of the market.
It's something award-winning young farmer Jack Stilwell is
Some of the animals he bought with money raised via
an internet crowd-funding campaign are going to market,
so will his animals meet today's demands?
A fieldsman for 30 years, Mark Ferrett
knows his way around the back end of a bovine better than most.
So the cow that we know and love, Mark,
has changed and evolved quite considerably, hasn't it?
and that has been driven by industry demand, really,
where you would have had a traditional small, stocky breed
used to living outside through the winter as well as the summer.
because farmers need to turn their cattle round more, so they've
had to introduce a bigger breed to get the beast to grow quicker.
The volume of animals coming through in unit has to be revolving
quite quickly to enhance the profit margins for the farmer.
Conformation of a beast is always so important, Matt.
You know, at the end of the day, the public,
when they purchase their beef, are always looking for a nice joint.
These days, consumers are returning to traditional British beef breeds,
I've stuck with Herefords and Aberdeen Anguses... Yup.
A bit of fat on the meat is good and that brings the flavour
and it's not bad fat, it's good for you.
There's a nice, long beast and he's got a good conformation,
but what we would refer to in the trade as...
Where we're at at the moment with the market,
what would you expect to be a good price next Friday?
but these lovely little healthy bullocks here which we're selecting,
I'm hoping, for Jack's sake, that they are clear 450s
It's a good job. Hopefully next week will be payday. Yeah.
if our photo of Curly the bull is impressing people as much.
That's it. Get the message of British beef out there. Marvellous.
Earlier this year, we asked you to nominate your farming heroes
as part of the BBC's Food and Farming Awards.
And Charlotte Smith, a familiar Countryfile face
and all parts of the UK, so they took some sorting.
What sort of people are we looking for?
Somebody who has done something extra,
something they didn't really have to do.
Somebody who hasn't really been recognised for that. Yeah.
We want someone special. Going above and beyond, isn't it?
I think that's the important thing, isn't it?
but we've picked three finalists to meet, so we can choose one winner.
Cumbria police have declared a major incident as Storm Desmond
And where better to start looking for heroes
than in the midst of last winter's storms...
The floods last year had a massive impact on many farming communities.
There were lots of nominations for people who helped out in the flood,
so we decided to pick just one that represented the spirit of them all.
And that actually proved rather difficult but we have managed it
and we are here because it's the Cumbria Young Farmers.
So I'm going to meet the Young Farmers.
And I'm going to see who nominated them. See you later. See you.
Our first finalists are a group of heroes,
the entire Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs.
That's 25 clubs, 1,600 young men and women.
When their county was caught up in Storm Desmond last December,
they didn't hesitate to get stuck in.
Like when Mike Dunning's farm near Tebay was engulfed in a mudslide.
Goodness me. What a mess. It's a little babbling brook today
but it was a raging torrent that afternoon. Yes.
Obviously it burst its banks as you can see there, it burst through.
We were stood up to here in water and, you know, coming in full force,
it was all you could do to stand in it.
Goodness me. It was ferocious, it really was.
And then when the mudslide happened, what did it look like?
It was just like looking at a wall of soil, it was frightening.
Unbelievable. My muck-spreader, it was there on its side upside down,
it had just lifted it up. You couldn't get your head round it.
Dozens of Cumbria Young Farmers turned up to help out.
And some are back today to tell us about it. Hiya. Hello. Hi.
So tell me, how did the first contact happen, then?
I actually got in touch with Mike. Seeing how bad everything was here,
I just knew these guys could help out.
Even in a small way, it would make a big difference.
We soon got together, got our shovels and started digging.
So it was handballing work, really. It was.
It was all hand work, yeah, it was too high for the digger to
get in for access, so it was man and shovel.
And why the Young Farmers? Why not the...you know, the Fire Service?
Part of the community spirit of Young Farmers, really.
Strengthening the local community. Fantastic. Yeah.
Congratulations and I think you're very deserved nominees.
This is just one of the many stories of Young Farmers in Cumbria
Charlotte's caught up with the person who nominated them
And to do that, I've left the countryside behind
This is Petteril Street in the centre of Carlisle.
But during Storm Desmond, it looked more like a river.
1,600 houses were evacuated, including this one,
home to 80-year-old Marie Scott. I'm meeting her son David.
I left this house at about three o'clock on the Sunday morning
and it was just lapping the doorstep there.
I went home, came back about an hour and a half
Yeah, she's coping with it but, I mean,
As she says, she's been rehoused and she's living in another house
It isn't where she hangs her coat and everything like that.
With Carlisle in crisis, Cumbria's Young Farmers really became heroes.
They weren't content to just help people in the farming community,
they decided to take their agricultural hardware onto
We have a lot of resources, a lot of equipment
and we can mobilise quite quickly, so we thought we'd try and do
a bit of prevention and get some sandbags and see what we could do.
And how many of you pulled together to get this going?
About 25 that day and they just kept coming out the woodwork.
Seeing we were in need and so they came to help.
So what did the Young Farmers do to help?
In every direction, every single house was flooded
and every piece of furniture, fridge, food,
everything that was in the house had to be taken out and this street
and as far as the eye could see was just laden with rubbish
and the Young Farmers came in to help the council because we didn't
have enough skips, or anything like that,
We've got about nine tractors and trailers, three loaders
and a digger and moved quite a considerable amount of stuff
on that day. We cleared in the region of five streets,
about 70 or 75 trailerloads of material,
so I think we made a large impact in one day.
Why do you think they're heroes? It's a big word, hero, isn't it?
But they just put their own troubles aside
and these young lads, whose farms and buildings
and livestock were devastated and also ruined, managed to give
up their own time to come in and actually help in the city.
And how do you feel now that you're nominated as farming heroes?
Well, yes, a little bit overwhelmed, really.
We didn't do it for any form of recognition.
It was just...you like to do something to help, really.
All right, let's get these wheels rolling.
Well, we've decided to hit the road and re-enact the rescue,
so the Young Farmers can meet up for the first time with the people
This is great, going through town with all these tractors.
That was quite some sight. That was amazing.
David, this is David who nominated them.
Hello, nice to meet you. Lovely to meet you.
This is Tom, who came to your rescue. Thanks, Tom.
And the whole Young Farmers crew. Yeah.
And these lads managed to bring a little bit more normality
Well done, you. Well done, Young Farmers.
Great. Amazing how many people turned out for you.
Yup, yup, every one of them. Thank you very much.
Someone here at the back of the group is another person who
and that's Jason who works for Carlisle City Council.
Jason, what difference did this lot make?
We were under real pressure as City Council and other partners to
get on with recovery and support people who had been affected.
"If you want something done, just ask a farmer."
And that was absolutely right on this occasion.
You made a tremendous difference and I'm really grateful.
It was inspirational what you did. So thank you very much indeed.
Well done for everything you achieved down here
and keep up the good work. Well done, thanks very much.
What an amazing group of people. I know.
Because they could have just done what we all do, couldn't they?
Watch it on the telly, feel very sympathetic, make a cup of tea.
They rallied the troops, rang round, got together and got stuck in.
Just brilliant. And made a real difference, a real difference here.
This is going to be hard. It's a good start, though, isn't it?
It's just before dawn and I'm out buying milk for breakfast.
But what makes this milk different is that it's raw milk.
Non-pasteurised, non-heat-treated, straight from the udder.
I've come to Fen Farm in Bungay in Suffolk to meet Jonny Crickmore,
one of a growing number of farmers registered to supply it.
From just a handful at the start of the decade, there are now 114 just
like him, producing raw milk to meet the demand of a burgeoning market.
If you like the flavour of milk, and you taste raw milk,
It's got so much more flavour and it's more silky,
it's not been battered around in pumps and been cooked
and it's just as straightforward and basic as it comes.
At the heart of Jonny's operation is a 300-strong herd
a breed from the Alpine regions of Europe.
So what's different about this breed?
If you notice, they're quite a chunky cow.
Mostly the milk is used for making comte cheese,
so this is sort of the Swiss-French border.
so it's got higher butterfat and higher protein.
Higher solids in the milk actually makes more flavour in the milk.
You don't have to convince me, I love butter.
I'm an absolute butter and dairy obsessive.
They're massive, some of these cows, aren't they?
Yeah, they're quite chunky. They've got some power behind them.
Jonny originally brought in the Montbeliardes
but soon found that people were asking for his raw milk.
and conditions in the parlour are kept scrupulously clean.
you wouldn't be cleaning the teats quite like this, would you?
No, I mean, every dairy will be different. Some dairy farmers
will spend more time than others but, on the whole,
what we are doing different is we're spending a lot more
time in the milking parlour making the cows' teats clean
and trying to prevent muck going in the milk.
'A special brush applies disinfectant to the teats.'
That's it, you want to go over once or twice.
You want to see that teat nice and shiny.
This herd produces up to 6,000 litres a day.
The bulk of it still goes for pasteurising but Jonny's holding
back more and more because of the increasing appetite for raw milk.
Sorry, lady, there we go, and last one.
There's been a bit of a buzz around the product for a while now
Is it working? Oh, yeah, there you go, the milk's coming out, lovely.
Because raw milk isn't pasteurised, harmful bugs could still be present.
This can make drinking it risky for small children,
pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions.
So all bottles have to carry health advice and testing is rigorous.
The Food Standards Agency comes out and takes a sample of the milk that
we sell and they're testing really just for the hygiene of the milk.
So they're testing for the level of pathogens.
So this would be your listerias, your salmonellas,
And how clean the actual milking parlour is itself.
I suppose the testing is even more rigorous when you're doing
something like raw milk because, well, it has to be, doesn't it?
Yeah, I think it needs to have a high level of testing.
You just need to make sure, at the end of the day,
The spring sunshine is beginning to punch through
and the first of the day's customers are here for their milk.
They've come here to buy direct from the farm as it's illegal to
Well, it's a totally different taste and everything.
You can't beat it, really. Real milk. I know, real milk.
And cream about that much on a bottle. Yeah.
Does is remind you of something you used to have when you were a kid?
From ten litres a day just a few months back,
Jonny's now shifting 200 litres a day.
And because there are no middlemen and no supermarkets,
he keeps every penny he sells it for.
It's a lot creamier, silkier and it's got a lot more flavour.
Well, that's what I think but raw milk still divides people.
Some claim health benefits whilst others warn of the dangers
from drinking milk that might contain harmful bugs.
But the advice on the bottles is clear and, ultimately,
Farmers up and down the country are getting ready to turn their
cattle out but what has the weather got in store for them and us?
Good evening. It is a changeable week ahead. We start with a look
back at March. It was drier than normal. Further south, it was wetter
than normal. We saw storms early in the month and storm Katie bringing
rain to the southern half of the UK. It settled down in the middle part
of the month. There was an easterly wind coming in from the North Sea.
However, it was across the south-east today where we saw 17.2
degrees in Gravesend which made it to the warmest day in England so far
this year. We will not see that in the coming few days. We will pick up
a westerly breeze and it will turn that bit cooler. It will maybe be
cold and off by the end of the week for some frost in places. It will
not be raining all the time. We have since heavy downpours in the past
few hours. Not a great rush hour in central and southern Scotland. The
eastern side of Northern Ireland is also looking pretty wet through the
morning. A scattering of showers in Wales. Showers are on the other side
of the Bristol Channel. Central and eastern areas getting off to a
reasonable start. Cloudy for some, brighter for others. Generally
speaking, for England and Wales, we will cease showers breaking out
through the day. A bit of sunshine in between. This in China is limited
for Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is seven or 8 degrees in
Aberdeen. Onto Tuesday, low-pressure drifting across the north of the UK
taking most of the rain with it. A reasonable day for most places on
Tuesday. Any early rain becomes light and patchy. We will get to 12
degrees for many places in the far south-east. A big change happens
Tuesday night into Wednesday as this weather front comes in from the
west. A lot of isobars. The cooler air will be dragged in behind. There
will be some showers around. The cooler air is flooding its way in.
Many places struggling to get into double figures. It looks like
further showers on Thursday. It will be a blustery cool day with a fair
bit of cloud and some rain at times. Some places really struggling to get
above 89 degrees. Onto the end of the week and we have this weather
front drifting its way in from the Atlantic. We are likely to see
developments along this front. The low pressure will stick around next
weekend as well. It is the southern half of the UK which is most at risk
of some cloud, outbreaks of rain at times. Further north it should be
that bit drier, particularly into the north and west.
Their milk, their leather, their meat.
I'm spending the day with Jack Stilwell,
an award-winning young farmer combining modern thinking
The last stop of the day is on another bit of Jack's shared
farmland and it's with his breeding cows of the future.
And it's quite a big day for them because, after a long winter
indoors, they're about to get their first taste of fresh green grass.
Well, even though Jack got into farming in a very modern way,
what he's doing is incredibly traditional
and it's all about this - the landscape,
Really, he's chosen breeds that can do well on grass
and don't need a huge amount of supplementary feed.
The problem he's got is that his fields are really quite spread out.
So today we are taking part of his herd over the Downs.
Jack's mate Alex is lending tractor and trailer support.
We're only going to get one shot at this, really,
so we're just trying to make sure it's kind of as
efficient as possible and everything's in the right place.
The plan here is to make the pen smaller and smaller...
so the cattle only have one place to go.
Once one goes, the rest of them will go.
Right. Thank you very much for that. No problem.
Some of these have never seen grass, have they? No.
That's a great sight, isn't it? That is what it's all about.
Seeing them run across the grass like that... Uh-huh.
So really, going forward, then, what is the grand plan here?
The grand plan for me is just to continue
If a good opportunity comes my way, I'll grab it with both my hands.
As long as I can keep it sustainable and allow it to keep
paying for itself, I don't really see a limit to it, to be honest.
Jack hopes his story will inspire others just as he was
inspired by the wise words of one of his sponsors.
He said that someone helped him when he was younger, which allowed him
to become successful and the one caveat to that was that,
when I was successful and I had made it, that I should help people do
the same thing and I really like that sentiment.
before Jack can help out some other young farmer.
Judging by Curly's fan club, there's plenty of interest out there.
you've got the whole field to play in and you're still stuck around us.
It seems like, because this whole programme has been
all about cattle, they just wanted to say goodbye
because that is all we've got time for this week.
Next week we're going to be up in Northumberland where John
will be following in the footsteps of one of our best loved artists
and Ellie will be in a bit of a hotspot.
Matt Baker, Anita Rani and Helen Skelton tell the story of cattle in this themed programme.
Matt spends the day with young farmer Jack Stilwel, who got into farming after a crowdfunding campaign on social media. Matt finds out what made him take the plunge and what the reality is for beef farmers in the 21st century.
Helen visits the last remaining traditional oak bark tannery in Britain, discovering the processes that go into producing high-quality leather.
Anita meets botanical artist Gael Sellwood who paints on vellum. Anita finds out what makes vellum so good to paint on and picks up a paintbrush herself. Anita also finds out what's behind the current craze for raw milk, meeting a young couple who can't sell it fast enough, and asks if it is just a food fad or if there are health benefits to drinking it.
Many of Britain's dairy farmers are struggling to make ends meet at the moment because of falling milk prices. So what can be done to help them back into profit? Charlotte Smith asks if large indoor dairy herds are a more efficient way of making money from milk and whether the British public would support them.