I started Happy Cow Milk in 2014 because I was determined to create a more ethical and sustainable dairy model.
I leased some land and built a mobile dairy shed so that calves could stay with their mothers. We cut down on nitrates by reducing stock numbers and rotating grass with nitrogen hungry plants. We sold our milk in reusable glass bottles.
I was pretty chuffed. My customers were loyal and passionate. Together, it felt like we were changing something really important.
But I’d only solved the first part of the supply chain. And it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get milk to consumers affordably. In 2018, I admitted defeat. My cows may have been happy, but my business wasn’t. (Neither was my wife.)
What happened next, brought me to tears.
You guys refused to give up. My customers and a growing tribe of supporters sent me kind messages and propped me up financially so I could go back to the drawing board.
Which is exactly what I’ve done. I learned the first time that you can’t build small, sustainable dairy if you have to answer to big, corporate dairy.
Happy Cow 2.0 is dairy democratised.
We’ve designed the entire milk processing and distribution system so that anyone can economically farm, sell or buy Happy Cow Milk.
The breakthrough piece of engineering will be a small-scale milk processor that takes out heavy compliance costs. The machine, which will be about the size of a dishwasher, pasteurises the milk and then the whole unit is transported to one of the Happy Cow network of vending locations where consumers fill re-useable glass bottles and pay electronically. When customers pay $2.50 per litre, the farmer gets $1.20 and the retailers get 50c. This makes it economical for anyone to farm five or 500 cows. We take care of the processing, distribution and even sales.
Anyone can be a retailer too. Cafes, dairies or even schools, can host Happy Cow vending and earn money on every litre sold.
It’s taken a lot of work, but I’m feeling good that we’ve developed a solution with no compromises. We’ve done it together. With the help of so many people who believed better dairy must be possible.
The New Happy Cow is not only more viable, it’s infinitely more scalable. It’s allowed us to think way beyond our single-herd ambitions at Ohoka.
We have a path mapped out to take the Happy Cow Model to the world, and to transform not just dairy, but all primary production. We believe that small-scale, mixed-use farming is better for animals and for the environment.
Glen Herud, Founder