23 January 1998

Jerseys rich milk ideal

for processors

REPLACING a herd of 7000-litre Holsteins with 5000-litre Jerseys should increase business profits and net worth for one producer processor.

Maitland Mackie farms 730ha (1800 acres) in Aberdeenshire, has 450 dairy cows and followers, and produces icecream, with a £32m turnover.

Speaking at the British Cattle Breeders Conference, he said Jerseys produced a lot of cream, reducing the need to buy it and skimmed milk powder in at high cost for icecream production.

Dr Mackie has direct sales quota which is not based on butterfat, and Jerseys produce 50% more cream using the same amount of quota for sale or lease.

This left a 0.5m litre surplus of quota. Jersey cows also cost much less to buy than was made on sales of Holsteins, releasing capital.

"Jersey cows need the same concentrate inputs because they produce more solids. But they require less forage, and so have released 200 acres of land.

"They should survive an extra half to one lactation, with no calving difficulties or feet problems. Youngstock will also be cheaper to rear," said Dr Mackie. But culls and calves will have a lower value when the OTMS and calf slaughter scheme finish.

Since their arrival on the farm the Jerseys, bought mainly as one herd, have taken time to settle. Yields dropped from 5000 litres before moving to 4400 litres. But as cows calve again they are peaking well, said Dr Mackie.

Even so, their margin over concentrates compares well with the Holsteins when milk goes into the dairy.

However, without the premium from the processing business, based on savings in purchased cream and milk powder, it would be difficult to justify milking Jerseys on current premiums offered by major milk buyers such as Wisemans.

"But fat and protein will be needed more in the future as more milk is processed and more producers will need to look at such transitions," he added.

Jersey cows require the same concentrates but less forage than Holsteins – Maitland Mackie.