Calum McGinley with the Danish Jerseys at Ingleston

Danish Jerseys excel in Scotland

Ingleston and Calum McGinley

Danish Jerseys have had an influence far and wide. Today, we visit the dairying heartland of Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway, to visit Ingleston Farm, owned by Jock Rome and managed by Calum McGinley. To examine this, we need to start around 2011 when Calum was faced with the need to update and re-vitalise the dairying enterprises. At that time, it consisted of around 360 pedigree Holsteins in two separate units, Holsteins were getting ever larger, and aged building that were unsympathetic to major adaption. So, what was the solution? After seeking advice and visiting a variety of ideas, Calum had a ‘light bulb’ moment. The answer was to introduce a smaller cow, increase cow numbers by 20%, reduce feed intake by 20% and produce more milk solids from the same forage area. Realising that not everybody would be so convinced, he set about the task of creating an attractive and viable business plan with a financial spreadsheet.

Jock Rome Outside his new Farm shop, Kilnford

Calum presented this to Jock Rome who perhaps had some initial reservations, and asked Calum to investigate further, Whilst on a study tour to Denmark with Bryn Davies, Advanced Ruminant Nutrition and two local farmer friends, he saw first-hand, large dairy units producing sound ecconomics with Jerseys, he also later on visited high yielding Jersey herds in the UK.

Next, he had to find a potential milk buyer, Grahams Family Dairy buy most, if not all, the Jersey milk produced in Scotland to supply their Gold Top product range, like Liquid Gold Top milk, Butter, Cream and Yoghourts etc. Their specific requirements were High-quality Jersey milk, from happy and healthy cows, with uniform monthly production over the whole year.

Some of the Gold Top products produced by Grahams Family Dairy

By now the plan was beginning to take shape

  • Sell all the Holsteins, along with the off lying farm
  • Adapt the home farm & milking parlour, at Ingleston, to accommodate the smaller Jersey, by adding two bays to the existing barn and refurbishing the milking parlour
  • Purchase 450 Jerseys, High health status, High milk components
  • Keep costs low, maximise income
  • Breed all cows to B Blue & Black Limousin (run as a flying herd)

Calum presented his ‘beefed-up’ plan to Jock Rome and later in 2012 both decided to visit Denmark to start to put plans into place. But why Denmark? Calum needed guaranteed high milk components and healthy cows. Fearing acquiring bovine TB if sourced from across the UK. Denmark (which is free of Bovine TB, IBR and DVD) then became the obvious choice.

The next challenge was to find a contact within Denmark that Calum would have complete confidence in, and could deliver Calum’s specific requirements to Scotland in first class condition.  Calum approached Niels Jorgensen, manager of Danish Jersey Export and immediately struck up a very sound working relationship.

Danish Jersey Export have played an important role ,click above for more information.

Danish Jersey Export is a farmer owned export marketing co-operative. The Board is made up entirely of active Jersey herd owners. By visiting several herds Calum was able to demonstrate the type of animal he required and expected. A contract for 450 in calf heifers was placed. The first would calve approx. 8-10 weeks after arrival with others spread over later months.

Back at Ingleston

Holsteins were sold in June 2013, satellite farm subsequently sold, buildings converted to house 450 milking Jerseys and the milking parlour converted to accommodate smaller Jerseys by creating 24 stalls 24-unit herringbone. The parlour could still be increased to 28/28, however, the current milking routine and staffing is well suited to the smaller size, so further expansion is on hold. First Jerseys arrived from Denmark July/Aug 2013 and the first heifers were milked in Sept. Calum was completely taken back by the condition of the heifers when they arrived, clean, fresh and no sign of any stress or jet lag whatsoever, despite their long journey.

Heifers arrive in superb condition from Denmark, despite the long Journey

Over the subsequent months the herd built up to 450 milking cows.

Herd management

Cows are bred to Belgian Blue bulls for the first two inseminations, then run with a Homozygous Black Limousin, this breed guarantees black calves. Male calves are kept to 3-6 months of age then sold on to local beef finishing units be finished. Females are sold as store cattle or finished on farm. As no purebred calves are kept, Herdbook registration and milk recording are not considered cost effective. However, on economic performance the herd is rigorously monitored using the Kingshay Dairy Costings scheme. On current performance the herd is achieving a margin over purchased feed result of £1,540 per cow, plus one store animal per cow

Milk sold per cow

Milk sales to the dairy average 6,500 litres per cow @ 6.00 Bf 4.1% P = 657 Kg milk solids. Calum believes he can achieve 7,000 litres per cow soon.

Up to 100 in-calf heifers are imported from Denmark each year as replacements. Calum is reassured that all that all he needs do is to indicate to Niels Jorgensen which month he wants heifers to calve in and Niels will supply them. This is where a good working relationship comes to the fore. Calum gets the cows he needs, and the quality is assured.

To maintain a steady supply of milk to Graham’s Family Dairy, Calum needs approx. 40 calving’s per month.

The type of cow that performs well at Ingleston

Herd health

Danish Jerseys have performed extremely well on all herd health traits. Denmark has a long tradition of incorporating health traits into their breeding plans and no doubt Calum is reaping the benefits.

  • They have calved very easily, even to beef breeds
  • Foot problems are much reduced from the Holstein days. Routine foot trimming carried out and the occasional foot problem treated.
  • Fertility is much improved
  • Mastitis has much reduced in fact Calum feels confident stop dry cow therapy.
  • Cull cow value is lower, but Calum argues this is largely offset by a much lower replacement need, The Jersey lasts longer in the herd.

Other farm enterprises at Ingleston

Ingleston is currently around 800 acres (324 Ha), half of which is at around 200 metres above sea level, and used mainly for grazing , the remainder is at 50 metres and is used for cropping. Calum believes that the key to dairy herd performance is top quality silage. Ingleston has won several regional silage competitions as well as the Scottish National. The lower land is managed on a 5 year rotational policy, incorporating Grass, Maize and whole crop wheat and a small area of whole crop barley. The grass is 1-4 year leys dependant on the needs of the rotation. Check details

  • Grass    230 acres           94 Ha    Grass for silage
  • Grass    390 acres           158 Ha for grazing
  • Maize   110 acres            45 Ha    Maize for silage, Sown under plastic
  • Barley   20 Acres             8  Ha    For silage
  • Wheat  50 Acres             20 Ha    for silage Check total acreage

Ingleston is also home to 300 pure Black Galloway cattle, these are purchased as stores and finished for Jock Rome’s farm shop see below, which takes around 4 head per week, the balance being sold .

In addition, approx. 1,000 black faced lambs are purchased and finished on grass, before being sold in Jock’s farm shop all year round.

Jock Rome’s shop, Kilnford,

Ingleston is only part of Jock Rome’s agricultural interests, the latest jewel in his crown is his award-winning Farm Shop & Restaurant, Kilnford, situated on the outskirts of Dumfries which was opened in 2011.

About Jock Rome

Jock Rome’s family have been farming around Kilnford for over 300 years. He continued to farm Galloway beef, Blackface lamb and Duroc X pork to the highest welfare standards. Using generations of knowledge and his own years of experience, Jock has developed what he believes to be world class produce.

His Galloway beef and Blackface lamb graze on high land just a few miles from his farm shop at Kilnford, he farms with great integrity and his pigs have been awarded the highest Freedom Food award from the RSPCA.

In 2011 Jock opened Kilnford Farm Shop to bring the very best of his home reared and local produce to the local community and now his home reared meats are available nationwide with his online delivery service.

Finally, I would like to thank Jock Rome and Calum McGinley for extending every assistance in producing this article. However, both Jock and Calum would point out that it is all very much a team effort, from the 6 full time staff, with vital contributions from other outside agencies including:- Genus, for inseminations, Nithdale Farm Services for routine feet trimming, Peter Hasting from Nithdal Farm Vets, Eoghan Mullery of Advanced Ruminant Nutrition and Danish Jersey Exports to mention just a few.

Just before you leave, perhaps you might like to join Jock Rome for a tour around his farm shop.

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