We all scream for ice cream!

Cheshire is packed full to the brim with interesting, independent businesses and on our journeys across this glorious county we often stumble upon amazing ventures. As a local business we always marvel at the variety of Cheshire enterprises, so we thought we’d take the time to shout out to some of the wonderful people making Cheshire a fantastic place to live, and in this case eat!

On a recent trip to a property valuation in Twemlow Road, Holmes Chapel, we noticed Bidlea Dairy, home to the best ice cream in Cheshire! Munching away on home-grown feed and free to roam outside to their hearts content for most of the year, the cows here are treated well…and that translates to their milk and cream.

It seems the secret of their amazing milk can be found in the third-generation dairy cows on the farm, whose ancestry can be traced back more than 100 years! Fed on a diet high in protein, their fresh delicious milk that’s high in protein and butter fat is the best ingredient for a cooling glass of milk or a welcome ice cream.

The family can trace its roots back in Cheshire more than a century and we spoke to Adam Brown, dairy farmer and now ice cream connoisseur, to find out about a little more about Bidlea…

“The farm was originally bought by my grandparents as an orchard farm, but it was difficult to make a profit with fresh fruit due to cheaper imports in the market, so the decision was made to turn it into a dairy farm. They bought a few cows, which turned into 50 and now we have 350!”

The business is going from strength to strength: “The business has grown quite quickly and has been in the family for three generations. My brother Ryan, sister Mel and sister-in-law Becky manage the farm side of things and my wife, Becky, and I take care of the dairy and processing plant where we produce our own milk. We began producing 1,000 litres a day and now we’re at five times that amount, and we deliver our milk to two doorstop delivery companies as well as garden centres, pubs and local shops.”

The pandemic affected the business, as it did so many, but the family team didn’t let it stop them: “We lost a lot of business when the lockdown began, as pubs closed their doors, and no longer needed our products and many local shops stopped trading. Our trade dropped and we had to put our cream down the drain. It was at this time that we had the idea to use the cream for ice cream, so we bought the equipment needed and we’ve never looked back – in fact we’ve outgrown our original equipment and need to buy a bigger machine.”

As well as selling their ice cream to other farm shops the family is looking at wholesale operations, “that’s on the horizon but to be honest we have a job on our hands keeping up with supply to local shops at the moment. Of course, we do but it leaves little time for bigger plans!”

What about the ice cream and milk? What does it taste so good? Adam is clear on this: “Our milk is as fresh as you can get. Our cows are milked twice a day and that milk begins processing within two hours – within 24 hours it’s with our customers. Our full fat milk is just that – we don’t remove any cream like many dairies – all the goodness remains.

“There’s no human contact so no introduction of bacteria – our milk is pumped over the road to our processing plant. Everything we do is in house from managing the cows to delivering the milk.”

With animal welfare high on the agenda for many families, Bidlea farm delivers. As Adam continues: “All of our cows are free range, in fact the definition of free range is a cow that spends 70% of its time outdoors. Ours spend 80-90% outdoors as our ground is quite sandy so can take what the weather throws at it.”

So down to ice cream! “We’ve just bought a new 24 flavour freezer for our new and improved ice cream and dairy outdoor shop. We’ve a café, farm shop, milk station where you can bring your bottles and refill them and of course ice cream!” The new incarnation of the shop is due to open late July/early August.

“Becky’s mum is in charge of making the ice cream as she’s been through the relevant training, and we use social media to ask our customers about the flavours they’d like to see and try. We add a new flavour each week – this week it’s millionaire’s shortbread, and we even have an ice cream for dogs, which has been very popular.”

So, for the best tasting ice cream, the creamiest milk and a thoroughly well spent few hours getting back to nature, why not visit Bidlea? Find them on Facebook and Instagram.