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Taking the first steps with VikingJersey

Betting on top VikingJersey bloodlines and genomic testing have helped Simon Magnussen enjoy a smooth and successful start with dairy farming.

Simon Magnussen runs a 64-hectare grassland farm in Efkebüll, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The young farmer currently milks 74 VikingJersey cows, but the herd is slowly expanding, with new heifer calves staying on the farm.

There are talks of expanding the herd to 150 cows, but there are no concrete plans just yet. Simon is slowly growing the herd and seeing how things develop. The reason for this cautious approach is as simple as it is special: Simon started farming only four years ago – in 2019!

The farm originally belonged to his grandparents, where they milked about 80 Holsteins. But, over the years, there were problems with the succession, as none of their children wanted to take over the farm. Simon's parents also rejected it and continued to earn their bread outside of farming.

However, Simon had shown great interest in the cows since childhood. He helped a lot and often on the farm, and everyone could see the glimmer in his eyes while doing so. That is why Simon’s grandparents decided not to sell the farm and leased the land until he was old enough. Additionally, the machines were carefully mothballed to give him an easy start in farming once the time came.

VikingJersey Cow Simon Magnussen Germany

Short stalls demand smaller cows

The cubicle barn at the farm barely shows its age – it was built in 1974 but is in immaculate condition. However, soon after taking over, Simon quickly realised that the stalls were too short for the larger-framed Holsteins. Additionally, Simon was sceptical about whether Holsteins would be the right breed for his grazing concept.

In search of a solution, Simon turned to others and received a farm-saving tip: "Jersey cows from Denmark," they said. Simon travelled to Denmark in August 2019, where he purchased 40 cows and 30 pregnant heifers, which were transported to the farm.

VikingJersey Cows Simon Magnussen Germany

Equipment for grazing cows

Simon also travelled a long distance to buy his milking equipment: to Lake Constance, Baden-Württemberg, South Germany. A farmer from there was selling a used 2x6 herringbone milking parlour that was perfect for the young farmer.

"Well, we had to drive all the way across Germany, but the technology was an ideal fit, and the price was also okay," says Simon.

The cows are milked twice a day, and the pastures are up to one kilometre away from the milking parlour. "I need healthy cows with good feet and legs and strong hooves that can cover long distances without any problems," he emphasises. "This works very well with the Jerseys."

VikingJersey Cows Simon Magnussen Germany

Seasonal calving

Simon’s cows calve in an autumn block between November and December, which offers both labour and feeding benefits. And while things certainly get restless in the shed in the run-up to Christmas, Simon can put a big tick in the "calving" box after these two months. The Jerseys also benefit from easy calvings without complications, and the calves are vigorous from birth.

"We have more time for other things in the summer," says the young farmer with a smile.

Seasonal calving also makes feeding easier for Simon’s system. "In the first months after calving, we cover the increased energy demand with TMR, and in the later lactation period, grazing is sufficient as an energy source," he explains.

VikingJersey Cows Simon Magnussen Germany

Betting on top genetics

To guarantee a perfect start, Simon made sure to get animals from the top Danish bloodlines when purchasing his first cows. These days, Simon breeds his cows, but he still takes the opportunity to buy the absolute top animals from Danish breeders occasionally.

Simon also puts a lot of weight on choosing the top VikingJersey breeding bullsClick “+” to see a list of the bulls Simon is using.

With such a big emphasis on having the best of the best, these top animals are consistently taken to the breeding centre in Nückel, Lower Saxony, for embryo transfer and other procedures.

Due to veterinary precautions, the animals stay in Germany after the procedures and do not return to Denmark. From this pool, Simon purchases the best animals that will continue the genetic progress of his herd.

Naturally, Simon also genomically tests all calves to fully understand their potential, saying: "I don't want to do without this information when breeding."

Simon's cows are currently in-calf from:
VJ Kasino (VJ Kantona x Casino x VJ Hoj)
VJ Jabra (VJ Jojo x VJ Lago x VJ Hjort)
VJ Luxplus (VJ Luxi x VJ Samson x VJ Link)
VJ Jojo (VJ Jocko x VJ Gislev x DJ Holmer)
VJ Nirak (VJ Nibiru x VJ Pele x VJ Libero)
VJ Splash (VJ Sort x VJ Huzar x VJ Tester)
VJ Carapaz (VJ Laster x VJ Bonne x VJ Bihl)
VikingJersey Cows Simon Magnussen Germany

Cows with a charming character

Simon is delighted with his Jerseys’ character. "The girls are very clever. They quickly realise what they should - and should not do," he says, laughing.

In fact, they are so clever that, occasionally, Simon has to use a special trick:

"If the cows are supposed to go to the left, for example, I drive them to the right - and poof, they all run in the left direction," he ends while smiling and cuddling one of his Jersey ladies.

Production figures:

  • Milk kg: 6,500
  • Fat %: 5.8
  • Protein %: 4.2
  • ECM kg: 8,200
Learn more about VikingJersey
VikingJersey Cows Simon Magnussen Germany

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