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An easygoing life with VikingJersey

Christopher Kiehne enjoys a relaxed farm life thanks to VikingJersey’s easy management and high solids production.

Christopher Kiehne is a fourth-generation dairy farmer in Birkenmoor, north of Kiel, Germany. Milking over 70 VikingJersey cows on his 65-hectare farm, the 39-year-old farmer comes from a line of purebred Jersey farmers.

His family first introduced the breed in the 1950s, and while it turned many heads at the time, the family never regretted their decision. "We’ve been here since 1933. My great-grandfather imported the first ten heifers from Denmark after his previous herd was culled following an outbreak of TB," adds Christopher. Even now, all cows in the herd can be traced back directly to these Danish heifers.

Christopher Kiehne Jersey

Easy-to-manage cows

The VikingJersey cows are calm and easygoing, happily lying around without running away from people. Additionally, some of the more inquisitive cows walk over to their owner in hope of getting some pets. "I like being around these animals," says Kiehne. "They have a special character and are very calm and curious, which I find very rewarding."

The cows are also very easy-to-manage, and most calve inconspicuously and on their own. “You have to be careful not to miss a birth,” says the breeder with a twinkle in his eye. Kiehne also benefits from the breed’s exceptional hoof health, as thanks to their dark, strong hooves “barely ten” of his cows have ever needed hoof-trimming.

The cows have been living in a fully redesigned barn since 2022, which has greatly benefitted animal welfare at the farm. The brand-new barn includes a large straw-filled resting area, solid-floored walking surfaces, a milking robot, and a great deal of light and fresh air. 

Christopher Kiehne Jersey

High production and long lives

Kiehne is a great fan of Jerseys’ profitability and is more than happy to sing their praises. With an average of seven lactations, the cows are productive for an exceptionally long time, resulting in a more than 86,000 kg lifetime output. The replacement rate in last year’s control was below the 3% mark.

Many cows in the herd have recorded impressive figures, highlighting the breed’s high milk solids production. One of Kienhe’s cows, Krone, was the highest-producing Jersey cow in Germany in 2017. Her eighth lactation yielded almost 9,000 kg, with 7.48% fat and 4.4% protein levels. She is now in her 13th lactation and has surpassed the prized 100,000 kg mark.

Today, four of Kiehne's VikingJersey’s occupy the top four spots in the national ranking for “lifetime production based on fat and protein,” making it Germany’s top Jersey herd. Additionally, Krone and six others in the herd are in the VIP club for cows that can produce a fat/protein volume exceeding 10,000 kg.

Christopher Kiehne Jersey

More cows per livestock unit

The medium-sized Jersey cows are very appealing to dairy farmers whose buildings are now too small for the larger-framed Holsteins. This makes them ideal for those looking for the breed of the future and to improve animal welfare.

Kiehne noticed this in an increase in the demand for heifers, saying “I could sell all my stock at top prices within two weeks. Sometimes buyers only ask for one or two animals "as a trial", but many come back to ask for more,” he says.

On top of that, there are also environmental benefits, especially in terms of feed efficiency and slurry. While a Holstein cow yields a whole livestock unit (GVE), a Jersey cow's livestock unit sits at just 0.85. With environmental policy quickly becoming a priority, this is an important development for farmers aiming to reduce emissions.

Christopher Kiehne Jersey

Adding value to bull calves

By using sexed semen, Kiehne significantly reduces the proportion of bull calves. These are often castrated and then gradually fattened for slaughter on pastures – a business with a lot of potential for direct marketing.

Additionally, the medium size of Jerseys is not a limitation when it comes to getting value from the male calves. Using Beef on Dairy – frequently Angus or Danish Blue – means that he can get more value from the male calves.

Christopher Kiehne Jersey

A trouble-free, easygoing life

The healthy, trouble-free cows give the young farmer smoother working hours, and reduce vet and feed costs, resulting in an easygoing life. This allows Kiehne to spend more time with his family, especially as he and his wife await their second child’s birth.

"My wife and I knew from the start that we wouldn't be earning millions with dairy farming," he says looking back. "What is important to us is having enough time for the family," he ends.

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