Katherine Jenkinson’s love for the Jersey breed of dairy cows started when she was just a toddler and has been a part of her journey ever since. 

When she was just 10 years old, Katherine woke on Christmas morning to find an unusual gift in her stocking – a six-month-old Danish-bred heifer called Farlam Adas Gloria. 

Gloria was the start of Katherine’s own pedigree herd, which today has grown to 49 Jerseys. Twenty nine of them form the milking portion of the herd.

Gloria’s daughter, Katherines Elizabeth Excitation, was born in 2007, making her now the oldest cow in the herd. 

“Elizabeth is the first cow to start my herd's name which is Katherines. In her younger days she enjoyed her showing days, but as she got older she moved to the side to let her daughters take over. We have four daughters in the herd: Dotty, Jenny, Edith and Elenor, and she has 19 granddaughters, great granddaughters, and now she has a great great granddaughter,” explained Katherine. 

“Our logo isn’t just any Jersey cow either; it's Liz. We shouldn’t have favourites, but it’s safe to say Elizabeth is queen of the herd. She’s my baby and I love her to bits,” says Katherine.  

Katherine’s love story for Jerseys began with her great grandparents, who established the Heathwaite herd name at their farm in Windermere. 

Her grandparents John and Ann went on to farm in Garstang, milking 30 Jerseys before the family moved to Fordsyke Farm at Scaleby in 1990, taking the Jerseys with them. 

Today, Katherine and her parents Andrew and Rebecca, and brother Tom are milking Jersey and cross-bred cows, across 206 acres of owned and tenanted grassland. 

Katherine, 28, helps at home on-farm, while also working full-time as a milk recorder in the local area. 

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She studied Level Three Agriculture at the former Newton Rigg College at Penrith, going back there when she was 21 as an assessor for Level Two apprenticeships and getting her Certificate in Education. 

With no previous experience of showing her cows, Katherine attended the Cumberland Show in 2006 with Gloria. 

But it was Gloria’s first heifer calf who scored several wins across its first show season. Then Elizabeth’s daughter, Katherine On Time Jenny, went on to be another successful member of the show team, winning six out of seven shows entered in 2019. 

Another show star is Monument Engineer Blackberry, which Katherine purchased in 2018. “Blackberry went on to take sixth place at the All Britain All Breeds calf show in 2018, the junior championship at Dairy Expo in 2019, and reserve junior champion at the Great Yorkshire Show in 2019."

It was while Katherine was enjoying show success that it prompted the opportunity to start her own business, known as ‘Katherines Jersey Milk’. 

“It all began in March 2019 while I was working as a tutor and assessor for Newton Rigg College in Penrith, and one of the first things we did with the students was look at farm diversification. 

“One of the student’s families had put a vending machine in on their farm, and it got me thinking if I could do this at home.” 

Then in 2020 when the country was in lockdown, Katherine started looking at prices for a vending machine. “But I knew financially I could not afford to pay for everything myself, especially not having any income during lockdown.” 

But after putting together a business plan and speaking with several companies supplying vending machines, Katherine was successful with an application to a small business lender. 

In the farm’s converted old dairy, Katherine began her business journey with one milk vending machine supplying fresh pasteurised Jersey milk and a glass bottle dispenser, alongside selling local eggs, cheese and chutney. 

To gauge interest, milk was only advertised to friends, family and village residents.  “Then I started on social media and did a leaflet drop around Carlisle,” says Katherine. 

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Customers just don’t come for the milk, says Katherine. They want to see the Jersey calves too. “They want to see they are buying their milk from a working farm where the calves are really looked after,” adds Katherine. 

Katherine’s freshly pasteurised milk and milkshakes from the Jersey cows has recently received the highest award from the Food Standards Agency. 

“I got a ‘very good’ when it came to hygienic food handling, ‘good’ for cleanliness and condition of facilities and building and another ‘good’ for management of food safety,” says Katherine. 

Katherine’s milk is certainly the cream of the crop. The difference with a Jersey cow as opposed to ‘average milk’ is that the product contains 18 per cent more protein, 20 per cent more calcium, and 25 per cent more butterfat. 

“This makes for a much more ‘creamier milk’. It makes for a lot richer milk. We get a lot of people who are also lactose intolerant drinking our milk, just because of the different proteins. It means their stomach can digest it a lot easier,” she added. 

“The proteins in cows milk depend on the breed of cow, and the proteins found in Jersey milk are A2 beta-casein, which affects the body differently to A1 beta-casein,” said Katherine. 

“The slightly older generation used to get Jersey milk when they were young, so they always love coming and reminiscing about the milk they had delivered in a glass bottle as a kid, all kids fighting over the cream at the top of the bottle.” 

Katherine is selling about 60 litres of milk each day through the vending machine on a weekend, and in the region of around 40 litres on a weekday. 

The 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, low output system, with a mainly grass-based diet, fed alongside a ration of silage, wholecrop and brewers’ grains, and an 18 percent protein cake fed in the parlour. Calving takes place all year round, and cows calve outside where possible. 

In 2021 Katherine expanded her product range to include milkshakes, then a few months later began selling her ice cream after installing a freezer vending machine. 

Now the farm is becoming a name for their Jersey ice-cream, which comes in a range of flavours from vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, raspberry ripple and mint chocolate-chip. 

The ice cream is made by an external family business based in Lancashire, using milk from Katherine’s herd, and packaged in biodegradable ice cream containers. 

Keen to develop the business even further Katherine then invested in two weighted vending machines, some of the first to be installed in the UK. This was to allow her to stock a greater range of locally-sourced products, including jams, peanut butter, cakes and tray bakes. 

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

But the range of produce at the farm just doesn’t stop there. They also sell a range of soap made from their milk, which is known for helping with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and can be ordered online. 

Always looking to the future, Katherine would like to be able to sell her own Jersey cream, and would like to package it in small glass bottles, staying away from plastic, however this would come at an increased cost to customers. 

Meanwhile Katherine and her Jerseys have built up a huge following on social media, and during February to coincide with #februdairy, a campaign to promote the dairy industry, she posted a daily diary of life on the farm and her Jerseys.