Award-winning goats cheese in safe hands

Award-winning goats cheese in safe hands

EXPANDING: Sharron and Ed Parker, with children Georgia and Joseph, and some of their goats

AT THE HELM: Sharron Parker makes cheese

First published in Farming Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

THE future of an awardwinning goats cheese brand has been secured.

Steve Akrigg established Yellison Farm Goats Cheese in 2003 but had to put it on the market last year after developing a serious illness.

Sadly, he died on Christmas Day.

But new owners Sharron and Ed Parker have vowed to continue with his vision, which saw it build a national customer base and an excellent reputation with leading chefs, hotels and restaurants.

It also supplies wholesalers, retailers and pubs.

The entire goat herd, milking parlour and cheesemaking equipment has relocated from its former home at Carleton, near Skipton, a few miles down the Aire Valley to the Parker’s Sire Bank Farm in Bradley, where production has started.

They are milking 72 predominantly Saanen and Anglo Nubian goats which are renowned for cheesemaking.

They also have a billy goat, about 30 followers and 30 kids, including new additions since the herd arrived on their 40-acre hill farm at the end of February.

Mrs Parker, who is at the helm of the cheese-making business, said: “We are up and running and, while it’s still early days and there’s plenty of work to do, we have retained all existing customers and are meeting current order requirements.”

She is also fully involved with the family cattle, sheep and poultry farm with her husband and his parents, Bill and Jennifer Parker.

The farm specialises in Hereford-cross cattle, with a 30-strong herd of cows, raises Texel-cross-Mule sheep from 50 breeding ewes and has a flock of 200 Warren hybrid hens, with the eggs sold primarily in the local village shop.

Yellison Farm Goats Cheese produces two types of cheese – a light and creamy log in two sizes, and potted Crowdie, a soft spreadable cheese made to a Scottish recipe.

Production has actually increased in the short time since the Parkers took over, with milk output about 600 litres a week, and two weekly cheese runs producing 180kg.

Both cheeses have won awards at the Great Yorkshire Show and Mrs Parker said she hoped to pick up more in the future to “ensure we’re doing it right in terms of quality and to further boost the excellent reputation and pedigree of the brand”.

There are also major plans for development and diversification of the business.

Mrs Parker said: “We are looking to growing the herd naturally and eventually hope to milk 120-plus goats and produce our own haylage on the farm to feed them.

“This will allow us to increase production and capacity and expand our customer base across all target markets.

“We will also be seeking to develop and expand our cheese types and ranges, with different flavour variations of existing soft log products, together with the introduction of an ownbrand hard cheese similar to a Stilton.

“Goats milk is also used in ice-cream-making and in beauty products, such as soaps and shampoos.

“In the longer term, we shall certainly consider diversifying into these areas by investing further in the business.

“That was always going to be Steve’s next step and we would like to think we can help make his dream come true.”

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