By Debbie James

A pioneer of farmyard milk vending sales in Pembrokeshire has spoken of his heartbreak after losing his entire herd to bovine TB.

Nick Roch and his wife, Marie, had built up a hugely successful direct milk sales business with milk produced by their Holstein Friesian herd at Kilanow Farm, Stepaside.

But every cow has now been slaughtered following a major TB breakdown.

They have now teamed up with another dairy farm to keep the Simply Milk vending business going but say they are unlikely to ever return to producing milk after the trauma of the last 11 months.

The herd had been clear of TB for many years before a test last February threw up 26 reactors, including the farm’s Wagyu bull.

“That test came just a week after we had taken delivery of another four vending machines,’’ says Nick.

Further tests resulted in the loss of more cows to the point where milk sales were so low that they lost their milk contract.

The remaining 37 cows and youngstock were slaughtered last week.

When Nick announced the news of his breakdown to his vending machine customers on Facebook, it was viewed 11,500 times.

“The response has been unbelievable, people have been amazing. I had 400 messages last night,’’ he said.

“People read about TB and they see the figures but they can now put a face to it, to the farmers and the cows behind these figures.’’

Nick says he is unlikely to ever return to dairying.

“The last few months have been hard, I don’t think I could go through that again,’’ he admits.

But he is maintaining his Wagyu beef herd, and also milk vending sales by sourcing milk from Gethin and Geraint Beynon, who run a similar grass-based system at White Lion Farm, Tavernspite.

Vending machines have become commonplace in the last year but Simply Milk was one of the first to go down this route.

“We are looking for more places to put the machines and we are also hoping to supply coffee shops with the machines,’’ says Nick.