2015-01-21   facebook twitter rss

Jennifer is Showing the Men How It’s Done

Young, blonde and female Jennifer Picken isn’t your typical dairy farmer, but when a party of over forty farmers from Northern Ireland visited her farm in Kirkcudbrightshire they left more than impressed.

After working as a nutritionist at Keenan for several years Jennifer came home to the family farm and has since been bringing her ideas to reality. “I couldn’t have experimented too much with other people’s cows, but I can do that now with my own”, the 29 year old explained.

Jennifer Picken

Jennifer Picken

“Up until a couple of years ago we had 130 cows, 2000 sheep and a couple of sucklers. After I came home from Keenan we decided that we were going to expand and bought a herd of cows from a farmer who was going out of dairying.”

With her knowledge of nutrition, Jennifer has taken responsibility for the family’s 350 cows’ feed, whilst her brother carries out the engineering work. Her ration for the milkers includes silage, straw, barley, molasses and brewer’s grains which are readily available in Scotland.

The herd yields an average 11,000 litres each per year and is split into high and low yielders. Jennifer’s attention to detail means the herd is keeping an impressive cell count at 111,000 with protein content currently at 3.2% and butter fat at 3.8%.

Jennifer said she uses Volac’s Megalac supplement to compensate for low energy feed:  “Megalac does work; if the cows are struggling to keep their yields up and I know I don’t have enough energy in their ration I’ll add it in to give them a boost”.


Megalac has the highest independently measured net energy value of any feedstuff.  The calcium in the product encourages fat to break down in the lower gut where it is processed with much higher efficiency than in the rumen.  This allows cows to use the energy in Megalac for milk production with studies showing an average increase of 2.3 litres per cow per day.

Jennifer also saw the farm replace its herringbone parlour with a fifty point rotary. “The first time I saw a rotary I just fell in love with the whole idea”, she said.  “It was a big expense but I would definitely do it again.  We didn’t want to need more than two people to milk so we put in an automatic arm to spray the teats at the end.  Because the herd is starting to grow and grow and grow we’ve also needed to bring in automatic calf feeders”.

The calves on Milton Farm are kept in individual pens for eleven days and fed using teats before being given ID collars and grouped into batches with an Urban automatic feeder.  Jennifer’s calf feeders are set to give the calves 137g of Volac powdered milk per litre of water.

In Scotland, just as in NI, the market leaders are Volac calf milk powder and Urban automatic feeders.

“Our tractor driver feeds the calves and he really likes using the automatic feeding system.  It takes a lot of manual labour out of it so it has made his job a lot better.”


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link NFU Comment on Latest Milk Price Cuts
link Dairy Events

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