Westertown is a 1600-acre farm and our home, where we generate renewable energy and grow crops to feed our cows, who provide the fresh milk and cream which we need to make Mackie’s real dairy ice cream
Mackie’s have around 280 black and white Holstein milking cows, which make very popular dairy cows due to their high milk production (at about 4% butterfat), good temperament and their being strong and healthy. The farm crop strategy is related to the food required and we currently grow 600 acres of grass and 900 acres of cereals.
The cows milk themselves. We have five Lely ‘robotic milking machines’ which means the cows are free to eat, drink, ruminate and rest and be milked according to their own natural biorhythms. The ‘voluntary access milking system’ measures and records details like timing and milk yield. The cow’s collar also records and transmits information about each cow – monitoring her temperature and time spent eating, ruminating, resting or being active. This allows David and his team to keep a careful eye on the health of the cows. It’s a high-tech world – although our first machine was installed in 2001!
The ‘robotic’ milking unit recognizes each cow by the transponder on her collar, gives her a special extra feed of “cake”, washes the udder, fits on the milking equipment – it knows the dimensions of the cow and is assisted by an infra red light, carefully milks the cow, then checks the condition of the milk (conductivity test) before pumping it into the storage tank. The milking unit and cleaning brush are both steam cleaned before being used to milk the next cow.
The slurry from the cows is pumped up to the slurry lagoon on top of the hill and mixed with the waste water. It is then used as natural fertiliser and spread on our fields via four miles of pipework on the farm. This reduces the amount of commercial fertiliser products that have to be bought and saves on the fossil fuels used to manufacture it.
You’ll find the little Red Tractor logo on our ice cream tubs, to show that we have the Red Tractor accreditation for our milk production. Red Tractor are the champions of British food and farming and the assurance system is a mark designed for those looking for “great British produce that is traceable, safe and farmed with care for our countryside and animals.”
The late Halldis Mackie, (mother of Mac, Karin and Kirstin) used her time in retirement from being a local GP, to create our arboretum. An arboretum is a collection of trees, and our collection has 147 trees so far, with 112 different species of tree from 34 families.
The trees have been carefully planted in zones and with grass paths and a pond to create a beautiful place for visitors or staff to enjoy a moment outside. This beautiful and peaceful arboretum is also the final resting place for our Chairman, Maitland Mackie CBE (1937 – 2014) and Halldis, (1937 – 2014) his Norwegian wife of over 50 years – the spot marked with a Giant Redwood tree. It will be majestic in years to come, and is already a lovely spot to reflect and appreciate the trees as they establish themselves and show their different foliage and colours over the seasons.
Over 150 acres of our Aberdeenshire farm is established as woodland in addition to the arboretum. Trees can act as a carbon sink and provide natural fuel for biomass energy – but trees are also beautiful, become old friends and enhance our enjoyment of the farm!
Mackie’s is a 4th generation family business.
The business is powered by renewable energy – a mix of wind, solar and biomass – making ice cream ‘from sky to scoop’!
Farmers since 1912, we began making Mackie’s ice cream in 1986, Crisps in 2009 and Chocolate in 2014.
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