About BV Dairy

Our Story

About Blackmore Vale Dairy

About Blackmore vale Dairy

Our Heritage

At the start of 2024, BV Dairy became a part of First Milk, the regenerative farmer-owned co-operative, to secure the next phase of growth and secure the future for the business. But our story goes back a long way before that.

In fact, BV Dairy’s roots hail from a farm at the head of Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, where the founding Highnam family started out. After a brief spell in Luton, where Jack Highnam met his future wife Audrey, they moved to a dairy farm in North Dorset. The family started to bottle milk on the farm and deliver this to the surrounding towns and villages. Jack and Audrey started a family and eventually had 4 sons. The business grew and the family eventually moved to Old Rectory Farm, in the village of Kington Magna, near Gillingham, Dorset. 

In 1958, having sold their dairy herd, Jack Highnam and one of his sons, Christopher Highnam, formed Blackmore Vale Farm Cream Ltd. Chris’ younger brother Ed developed a pig farm on adjacent land to utilise the surplus skimmed milk from the dairy operation. The products in the early years were different types of cream, with particular emphasis on the family’s signature product: Clotted Cream. This product was recognised in 1965 with First Prize at the Royal London Dairy Show.

In 1985, with an ever-expanding business, new premises were needed and so they relocated to the present BV Dairy site at Wincombe Lane in Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Current MD, Jim Highnam, joined the business in 1991, becoming MD on the retirement of his father, Christopher, in 2001 and now works as part of the First Milk Executive team, leading the BV Dairy business.


Management Team


Jim Highnam


Andrew Wallwork


Harry Cowan


Josh Heydon


BV dairy chill store

The Chill Store

Our new chill store structure, which houses 1000 pallet spaces kept at 3°C and includes additional offices and storage for our customer services team, transport and storage teams, as well as production planning and engineering workshops, was commissioned in October 2016. The design ethos of the chill store is based upon lean principles, efficient running, and full IT integration across all functions.

With the help of VNA (Very Narrow aisle) forklift trucks and navigation systems, we can maximise the number of pallet slots in the facility while using the least amount of floor space. IT systems manage stock replenishments, final order picking, loading, and transport as well as the transportation of raw materials into the chill storage and put away operations.

The entire roof is covered in solar panels, which produce 3500 kWh of electricity daily, making the facility energy self-sufficient. Our fleet of corporate vehicles is also powered by this energy, and throughout the course of the year, the surplus energy produced will meet some of the needs of the industrial facilities. All chiller unit gases are energy-optimal, and the Chillstore itself has PIR lighting systems installed throughout to maximise energy savings.

A fantastic additional result, steaming from the construction of the chill store facility, is the Bio Diversity Project that is also now sited between the building and the AD Plant. This is a planting scheme and pond system that we allow to propagate naturally, providing a valuable area for wildlife of all kinds to live and flourish.


Anaerobic Digestor

BV Dairy is decreasing its carbon footprint (the volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted in manufacturing and distribution operations).  Emissions can be reduced by cutting fossil fuel consumption or generating renewable energy and we are doing both!

BV Dairy will cut its carbon footprint by about 60% – reducing its output of carbon by about 1200 tonnes per year.  This equates to the environmental impact of planting 120,000 trees. Our plant also treats waste materials on site – thus reducing sewer disposal costs, while generating renewable energy for use in the dairy.

We have been working with Clearfleau, our project partner, who are a British company that designed the system for extracting energy from liquid food processing residues. Biodegradable materials, containing organic matter, sugars, fats and proteins, can be treated using Anaerobic Digestion. In this natural degradation process, bacteria break down biodegradable compounds in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas (mainly methane and carbon dioxide).

Within the anaerobic reactor tank, a variety of bacteria convert organic compounds into biogas. There are four key stages in the AD reaction process:

  • Hydrolysis: the feedstock contains both suspended and dissolved solids. Here the suspended solids are converted into soluble products, such as sugars, amino acids and alcohols.
  • Acidogenesis: soluble organic products are converted into volatile fatty acids, plus by-products like ammonia and carbon dioxide. This “Acidogenic” (fermentative) biological reaction is like the process of milk going sour.
  • Acetogenesis: this is a biological process where volatile fatty acids are fermented by “acetogenic” bacteria to produce acetic acid, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
  • Methanogenesis: slow growing “methanogenic” bacteria convert acetate and hydrogen, into methane and carbon dioxide – the main components of biogas.

Biogas is then stored in the “bio-dome” (gas cover) above the reactor.  Some of the electricity generated from the gas, in a combined heat and power (CHP) generator, is used in the dairy, saving energy costs and reducing carbon emissions. The CHP also produces heat that is used in the AD process and the dairy.

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