Sustainable dairy production at Mackie’s

The Mackie family have been milking cows at Westertown Farm in Aberdeenshire since the early 20th century. Now a successful global ice cream and chocolate brand, Mackie’s of Scotland has an unwavering focus on sustainability that runs across all areas of the business, from its wind turbines and solar panels to its approach to dairy cow nutrition.

The business and farm strive for as much “vertical integration” as possible – meaning that each tries to make as much as it can itself, on site, cutting down transport miles and emissions while also giving better control over quality. From an energy perspective, this sees Mackie’s produce more than twice as much energy as it uses.

From a farming perspective, this approach sees annual growth of 300 acres of grass and 900 acres of cereals – reducing the requirement for bought in potentially unsustainable proteins and any related feed miles. Mackie’s herd of 285 dairy cows are fed a ration specially formulated to promote healthy, efficient milk production that includes good quality silage, home grown barley treated with our Maxammon grain treatment, and minerals including our methane reducing additive, RumiTech. Maxammon improves the pH and protein of the grain and improves total diet digestibility by +5% which means that farms are able to achieve the same performance from less feed.

Milked by 6 Lely robots, the Mackie’s team utilise the wealth of information provided by the cows’ tags to monitor and then respond to changes in health and performance, tweaking rations as and when required.

Dave Smurthwaite, Mackies farm manager commented on why they had introduced Maxammon to the ration last harvest: “as a business we’re committed to improving the sustainability of our operations. It’s important to us that our milk is produced as sustainably as possible and introducing Maxammon and RumiTech to the ration is helping us to improve performance at the same time as improving our environmental credentials. Last year we treated over 300 tonnes of home grown barley with Maxammon and this was used in the ration through to the winter. This has helped to replace some of the soya that we were feeding and we’re taking positive steps towards removing it altogether.“The cows took to the Maxammon very well, it has enabled us to feed higher levels of cereals more safely which, as a result, has had a positive impact on health as well as yield. As we move into the summer months we’re planning to treat our cereals at harvest again this year.”

“We’re also feeding RumiTech, which is included in the calf feed and in our minerals. RumiTech has been assured by the Carbon Trust to reduce methane emissions so for us it was an easy addition to the ration that helps us to improve our sustainability further.”

Mackie’s ice cream is produced “from sky to scoop” – with the sun and wind powering the dairy while also combining with the rain to grow the crops, which feed the cows, who produce the fresh milk and cream used in every tub.

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