Katherine Jenkinson

Sponsored by
KW Feeds NEW

The Jersey breed has long been a part of the Jenkinson family’s farming journey, and a passion of Katherine’s since being a little girl.

Her great grandparents established the Heathwaite prefix and Katherine, along with her parents and brother, are milking 155 pedigree Jersey and cross-bred cows, across 83 hectares (206 acres) of owned and tenanted

Katherine, who also works fulltime as a milk recorder, has her own 45-strong herd and is a regular on the show circuit, scooping various awards along the way.

Cows graze outside from late March until the end of October, depending on the weather and condition of the land. They are run on a low-input, lowoutput system, on a mainly grass-based diet, fed alongside a ration of silage, wholecrop and brewers grains, and a protein cake fed in the parlour.

Calving takes place all year round and cows calve outside where possible. The herd is currently averaging 18kg at 6.1 per cent butterfat and 4.04 per cent protein.

In March 2020, as lockdown commenced, Katherine took the opportunity to explore the idea of diversifying into vending machines, successfully securing a loan to start the business.

Starting with one milk vending machine and selling to family, friends and local residents, Katherine began supplying fresh pasteurised Jersey milk and a glass bottle dispenser, alongside selling local eggs, cheese and chutney.

Word of mouth has been the biggest advertisement, but the Jersey calves have also been a huge attraction, located in calf pens across from the vending machine.

Katherine is selling about 60 litres of milk per day through the vending machine on a weekend, with the rest of the farm’s milk supplied to Yew Tree Dairies.

She has also built up a considerable customer base of people who are lactose-intolerant, but have found they can digest the Jersey milk, thanks to the protein found in the breed which is A2 beta-casein and processed differently by the body.

In March 2021, Katherine expanded her product portfolio with the introduction of milkshakes and, in October of the same year, locally-sourced ice-cream after installing a freezer vending machine.

Keen to develop the business further, in February this year two weighted vending machines were installed to enable her to stock a greater range of locally sourced products, including jams, peanut butter, cakes and tray bakes to name a few.

The vending machines work on weight, so a customer will scan their card and then when they take products out of the vending machine, it will calculate which products have been removed and charge the customer accordingly.

Richard Beck

Sponsored by
KW Feeds NEW

Richard Beck farms with his wife, Emma, and parents, Steven and Susan, at Whitening House Farm, Sandbach, Cheshire.

The tenanted unit is home to 425 Holstein Friesian cows, which produce average annual yields of 8,900 litres, with milk sold to Muller on a Sainsbury’s contract.

Richard, the third generation to farm at Whitening House Farm, joined the business in 2006 and, in 2010, started the conversion to autumn and spring block calving following a study tour to Australia and New Zealand,  where he was impressed by the discipline and efficiency a block system offered.

As well as simplifying the heifer rearing process, Richard says this move has improved feed efficiency, with milk from forage now standing at 3,800 litres.

Some Norwegian Red genetics are now being introduced to the herd to further improve on feed efficiency figures. And in order to increase milk from forage further, there is also a focus on soil health and forage quality.

Cows are mobility scored every six weeks and farm staff are all qualified foot trimmers, so feet can be lifted as soon as possible.

With an eye on net zero targets, Richard and his team are measuring and monitoring carbon emissions and taking steps to make reductions.

They are currently looking at the impact of making ration adjustments to reduce methane emissions.

Solar panels were installed seven years ago and the possible use of battery storage is being investigated as a way of increasing the farm’s green energy consumption.

Richard is keen to credit the team at Whitening House Farm, with many members of staff having been with the business on a long-term basis.

A new parlour was installed in 2021 and Richard says as well as improving milking times and efficiency, this has also helped to create a better working environment for staff.

He says: “We have staff who have been with us for a number of years and we aim to look after our team by involving them in the decision making and ensure they have the proper facilities to work in.”

What the Judges said

1st class dairy farmer, with a great business plan. Has great vision for the business and his family.

Nathan Utting

Sponsored by
KW Feeds NEW

Nathan is a third-generation dairy farmer running the business alongside his father, uncle and cousin. He is responsible for the management of the 300 cross-bred milking cow herd, along with two other members of staff, and has been instrumental in making a number of changes to the business in recent years.

December 2020 saw a move into their new dairy unit and, prior to this, they switched the herd from an all-yearround calving system to an all autumn block calving system.

The installation of a new milking parlour halved milking times, and the new facilities and system has led to improvements in health, fertility and performance.

Nathan says: “Since we have been block calving we have been able to generate more profit in a shorter time period, cows make much better use of the grass in spring and summer and more use of winter feed post-calving.”

Cows are yielding 6,500 litres at 4.5 per cent butterfat and 3.4 per cent protein, with milk from forage standing at about 2,500 litres.

Nathan says he aims to improve this figure, and is focused on maximising forage quality in order to do this. Cover crops will be used to help improve soil health and fertility going forward. Milk is sold to Arla, and while Nathan says milk price is an area of concern, he adds he is focused on keeping costs as low as possible.

He says: “We are on a solids contract with our milk buyer and we can achieve this with our three-way cross cows without breaking the bank.”

Taking guidance from farm vet, Tom Hume, Nathan has made steps to reduce mastitis incidence drastically, with cases now standing at 16 cases per 100 cows. He is also focused on reducing the number of Johne’s cows
in the herd through testing to inform breeding decisions. Any cows not destined to produce replacements are bred to beef, with calves taken through to fattening.

Looking ahead, Nathan says he would like to increase cow numbers to 400 cows, and says he would look at all business opportunities including the development of a second dairy unit.

However, for now he adds the business is diverse with the family also running a contracting enterprise for local customers and an agricultural spec shop, which sells anything from 13-amp fuses to fencing requirements.

Patrick Morris-Eyton

Sponsored by
KW Feeds NEW

Animal health and welfare, efficiency and sustainability are at the heart of Beckside Farm, run by Patrick Morris-Eyton.

Keen to take over the management of the business from his father, he spearheaded a development project which has created an optimum environment for the cows to fulfil their potential.

Key to this have been the investment in new housing and installing a 54-point rotary parlour, while increasing numbers from 240 to 420 followers. The move prompted new protocols, a reinforced team, including expert
external consultants, and the capability to move to three times-a-day milking yields has led to increased milk yields, better efficiencies and a huge improvement in herd health and performance.

Patrick’s focus on cow health, welfare and performance has led to an uplift in yield.

Average production per cow per year is now 11,800 litres at 4.4 per cent butterfat and 3.4 per cent protein.

Alongside this, there have been significant improvements in pregnancy rates, which have increased from 20 per cent to 31 per cent.

Mastitis cases have reduced from 30 per 100 to eight, and a 50 per cent reduction in cases requiring antibiotics thanks to the installation of in-parlour technology.

Patrick says: “The relationship we have with our specialist dairy vet is key to the herd’s health performance and therefore both its efficiency and environmental impact. Through our vet, we have an in-depth herd health
plan with a protocol in place for every potential health issue. Each member of staff also has access to this information to ensure consistency of any treatment.”

The herd is predominantly pedigree Holstein, although Patrick has introduced some cross-breeding following the ProCROSS system to improve longevity and feed efficiency.

The top 20 per cent of the herd is put to pedigree Holstein, mid 40 per cent to Montbeliarde and the bottom 20 per cent to Aberdeen-Angus. Any HolsteinMontbeliarde cross heifers in the herd are put to Swedish Red or Angus.

As an Arla supplier, Patrick has been involved with its Climate Check for the past three years, improving efficiency and productivity on-farm, utilising resources and reducing waste across the business.

He is also a district chair and member of his local business benchmarking group, AHDB What Works committee, and the Kite group ‘Milk Tank’. Benchmarking and learning from others has been key to business growth.

On the night Patrick said

“We try to do the best we can on our farm and it is absolutely amazing for our team to be recognised. The agricultural industry needs to keep moving forwards. We are proud to be farming in a nature friendly way and have green energy as a resource to fuel us going forwards. Tonight has been very special and one we will not forget.”

What the Judges said

Has a great overview of the industry and developing of a sustainable business on the back of this. Open-minded to future opportunities. Showed great drive, enthusiasm and ambition.