Overview & Timeline

Rainton Farm, home of The Ethical Dairy, is the first farm in Europe to successfully implement cow with calf dairy farming at a commercially viable scale.

The Ethical Dairy brand, and the ethical claim, is based on four core values:

  • Fair work for people
  • High welfare for livestock
  • Environmentally regenerative closed-loop production
  • Resilient circular approaches
1860s The Finlay family begins dairy farming in Galloway.
1930s The Finlay family begins farming at Rainton Farm.
1987 David Finlay takes over the management of the farm.
1994 Cream o’ Galloway ice cream launched at Royal Highland Show.
1999 The farm begins a two year transition to organic.
2000 Introduction of new facilities to create Cream o’ Galloway Visitor Centre.
2001 Local foot and mouth disease outbreak badly affects the farm and Cream o’ Galloway.
2005 Wilma Finlay awarded MBE for services to the tourist industry in Scotland.
2006 Win BBC Radio 4 Farmer of the Year award in recognition of work on organic farming, education and diversification.
2007 Read ‘The Long Emergency’, began to question conventional farming systems and began to investigate the viability of a cow with calf approach.
2008 Economic crash devastates fair trade and organic ice cream market.
2009-2012 Plans for a new self-built dairy shed progress, incorporating cow with calf facilities.
2012 First pilot of a cow with calf system across half the herd.
2013 Halt failed pilot and recover.
2014 Install anaerobic digester. 
2015 Research by a Glasgow Vet School student researcher concluded an adapted cow with calf system might be viable.
2016 Launch of a 3 year ‘experiment’ of cow with calf farming across the full herd.
2018 Launch of The Ethical Dairy cheese brand after second year of pilot proved cautiously optimistic. Successful crowdfunding campaign supported creation of dedicated cheese making facilities. 
2019 David Finlay wins Farmer of the Year at the CEVA Animal Welfare Awards. The Ethical Dairy organises and hosts an Ethical Farming Conference. Announcement of viability of the Rainton cow with calf system after conclusion of the 3 year experiment. Commitment to cow with calf system permanently.
2020 Scottish Government funds independent research into the Rainton cow with calf system, led by SRUC. Surge in customer demand leads to temporary cheese sell outs. 
2021 Publication of 25 years of soil organic matter data demonstrates the farm is carbon negative. The Ethical Dairy wins an Outstanding Achievement Award at VIBES, Scotland’s environmental business awards, and wins Innovation in Farming award at the Scottish Land & Estates Helping it Happen awards.