A Dairy Story

Wilma and Dave Finlay

22 September 2022

Wilma and David Finlay are remarkable – creating the famous Cream o’ Galloway ice cream brand and pioneering a new, kinder approach to dairy farming which avoids calves being separated from their mothers shortly after birth. Their campaign to improve animal welfare has reached a new urgency after Wilma was diagnosed with lung cancer. They will launch a book about their lives, A Dairy Story, at Wigtown Book Festival.

David and Wilma have worked for decades to create a system that makes dairy farming kinder to cows and their calves – and which is economically and environmentally sustainable.

Their success with The Ethical Dairy at Rainton Farm, in south west Scotland, has proved it can be done and the popularity of their Cream o’ Galloway ice cream demonstrates just how much the public value what they do.

Their new book, A Dairy Story, is the moving and inspirational account of the couple’s efforts to reinvent dairy farming, by designing an alternative to standard industry practice that sees dairy calves being forcibly separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth. At the Finlay’s farm, the largest ‘cow-with-calf’ dairy in Europe, calves stay with their mum to suckle naturally.

A Dairy Story explains why their initial pilot of cow-with-calf dairy nearly ended in bankruptcy and how they figured out how to make the system work, and it charts their personal journey - from dealing with recurring cancer, including her current treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer, to a joint awakening about climate change and the environment.

The couple are also making a stand against the ever-increasing industrialisation of dairy farming, which sees cattle spend their entire lives in mega-sheds, rather than grazing in the UK’s wonderfully rich pastures.

Wilma is determined to tell the world about their pioneering and successful journey away from conventional farming to an organic, 100% pasture, regenerative, cow-with-calf dairy that’s now at the forefront of a global movement to transform an industry.

The couple, both 67, are well known in Galloway for their innovative approach to farm diversification, food production and tourism. Theirs is a story of success and their practices are increasingly recognised as both economically and environmentally sustainable by academics, researchers and farmers around the world.

The publication of A Dairy Story is part of their wider drive to popularise ethical dairy farming, with hopes high that they will soon produce practical guides for other farmers wanting to follow in their footsteps. It is a joint memoir that was completed in June 2022. Publication has been fast-tracked via a successful crowdfunding campaign after Wigtown Book Festival offered to host the launch of their book.

  • The Finlays will be talking about their new book at The County Buildings on Thursday, 29 September at 6pm. Tickets and full programme www.wigtownbookfestival.com.