Quickes Traditional, Devon
Quickes, whilst still a small company is more than twice the size in terms of cheese production that any of the three traditional cheddar makers based in Somerset. They make more than 400 tonnes of cheddar a year plus Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Smoked and Herb Cheddar in smaller quantities. Nothing is wasted and whey butter and cream as well as ice-cream may be found in their on-site farm shop. They also make a cheddar from goats milk which is bought from a neighbouring farm.
A third of the cheese is sold to supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda to name a few. A further third is sold to independents through a series of distributers and the final third is exported through seven export agents to all parts of the world.
Cheese is made 7 days a week in 4 1000 gallon vats. They make one batch of unpasteurised cheese each month. Normally the pasteurising begins at 4.30am with milk fresh from that morning and the previous evening. They use milk from their own 500 milking cows, which are Fresian x Swedish Reds (Ayrshire) which have proved ideal as they are smaller and more robust than simple Friesian or Holstiens. Thus they are more suited to the New Zealand system of keeping the cows outside in all but the very cold weather which Mary and the team prefer. This means they are outside for up to eleven months of the year and whilst daily milk yield is lower over the year it is greater as it is maintained over a longer period. The closed herd is managed so that some calve in the autumn but the majority in the spring to take advantage of the young spring grass.
The Quicke family have been at Home Farm for 450 years. It was Prue, Mary's mother who set up the dairy in the 1960's and under Mary's stewardship the dairy continues to go from strength to strength.