Guernsey milk has proved to be cream of the crop for Garway dairy farmers Mark and Susan Jones, currently embarking on a “huge development and investment project” with their sons on their farm.

Despite professionals shaking their heads at proposals for a higher end rotary milking parlour at Yew Tree Farm on Garway Common, this successful family enterprise remains confident that these “exciting” plans will make life easier not just for themselves, but also for their 110 milkers.

Since moving to Herefordshire over 20 years ago, they have been steadily building the Kelsmor herd, as well as the family’s reputation.

At this time of the year, work is split between running the busy 160-acre farm, and a further 40 rented acres, while keeping customers up and down the Welsh Marches supplied with homemade ice cream.

When the new parlour is up and running next year, milking times will be cut by a third, explained the couple’s son, Adam. “Professionals said we were aiming too high, but at the moment we are spending three hours at both ends of the day milking the cows,” he said.

“The new parlour will definitely be at the higher end, and we’ve ended up with a rotary parlour which is probably too big for the number of cows we’ve got, but it will cut milking time down from six hours a day to two.”

The expansion will include new cow sheds, and it’s hoped the buildings will be ready for the herd this winter, and the new parlour completed by next year.

Said Adam: “It’s a good decision and we are trying to do the work ourselves to try and save money.”

Dairy farming has been a way of life for generations of the Jones family. Mark’s father milked a mixed dairy herd on the family farm at Blunsdon Hill near Swindon, where the major road development of the A419 in the 1990s prompted the family’s move to Herefordshire.

“If we’d stayed, we would have struggled,” said Adam. “My father wouldn’t have encouraged us into farming. We’re all so glad we moved here, Herefordshire is much more amenable.”

With them came the Kelsmor herd, bought from a Dorset farmer.

“My grandfather was keen on Guernseys and we’ve had them ever since in gradually increasing numbers,” said Adam.

“He would have been happy to see how we are running the farm.”

After keeping back enough milk for ice cream production, the rest is delivered to Cotswold Dairy at Tewkesbury.

Adam’s younger brother, Josh is committed to the farm, and after his GCSEs plans to study dairy processing and business management. Their older brother, Matt has opted for a career in computing, though he sees to all the farm’s printing needs – posters, flags, banners – and happily lends a hand with tractor work.

During the year, the Jones family attend more than 150 events around the country with their golden and creamy ice cream, made with pasteurised milk on the farm, which comes in a range of flavours.

“We meet thousands and thousands of customers during the year,” said Adam.

“We balance the work between the farm and the ice cream and we’re just getting busier and busier.”

His mother explained that ice cream is made all year round on the farm to build up stock over winter.

“The busy start to the season has meant production is flat out to keep up with demand!” said Susan.

“At the same time, Mark and Adam – and Josh when he’s not revising for his GCSEs – work on the farm, ensuring the cows are milked, fed and looked after to the highest standards.”

The farm’s first bumper crop of silage has already been made, and a second cut will follow soon, providing winter feed for the cows.

Sue continued: “The weekend is when things get really busy, with our mobile ice cream parlour vans attending events ranging from village fetes to county shows, birthdays to corporate days and weddings to sports events all across the Marches, and further.”

Every Sunday through the summer, the farm team will be attending the Bands in the Park event at Ross-on-Wye with their ice cream.

“This is an exciting time for us here at Kelsmor Dairy,” said Sue.

“We are currently undertaking a huge development and investment project on the farm to make it even easier for us to give our cows the best possible care and just as importantly to supply our valued customers with high quality dairy products into the future.”