Aiming to be self sufficient and focusing on direct customer supply with dairy produce from their very own farm shop is well respected stockman Jonny Lochhead of the Kedar Brown Swiss herd.


I worked on Dairy farms around Australia, working with Holsteins, Jerseys and Ayrshires but I always had an interest in the Swiss Breed. I farm at Beyond the Burn, Nr Dumfries, with my family. The farm is around 300 acres split over two units, being entirely run by our family with relief cover when required.

The Kedar Brown Swiss herd is made up of 120 milkers and 140 followers, all Brown Swiss.

Where did it all begin for you?

From an early age, I’ve fed calves, milked and undertaken many other duties on my uncle’s farm, which is now our farm. Dad took over Beyond The Burn 25 years ago and after three years at Auchencruive I returned home full time, where I took over the day to day management and breeding of the herd. In 2001 we lost the herd to Foot and Mouth and restocked from Bavaria with Brown Swiss.

What is it you are looking for in an animal?

I like a strong animal that’s functionally correct, healthy with a great udder, plenty of style and capable of producing good volumes of milk from forage. Longevity and ease of management are key factors for me.

Brow Swiss’ place in the commercial market?

The Swiss breed are known for their exceptional health traits. They convert forage to milk really well, their steep foot angle and deep soles make them pretty tough. Calving ease is also a key feature. Farmers are looking for an all-round cow, hardy, healthy and profitable…the Swiss tick every box.

Has the breed changed for the better?

Hell yeah! Gone are the days of woodchucks and cart horses! Now they are a proper dairy machine capable of fighting in any system and can swim in the very deepest of waters in any show ring, competing at the very highest level!

If you had to choose another breed, what would it be?

It would have to be Holsteins, I like a challenge and a Holstein herd in this system would certainly be a challenge! Although I admire a good cow of any breed, I’m really not into cross breeding. My Swiss are 100% pure and I question the influence that some of the cross breeding has had across some of the other dairy breeds and wonder where the future takes them.

What got you involved in showing to start with?

When my glittering Sunday league football career was prematurely ended by a knee injury or two, I needed something to keep me out of bother. At this point Mike and Jayne Edwards of the Cimarron herd took me under their wing and showed me the ropes, it wasn’t long before the showing bug had me hooked!

Best Highland Show awards?

A few years back I was the Royal Highland Show poster boy, my mug shot was plastered all over the show on posters 30ft high, after a few days of being the butt of every joke and supplied with a few drinks along the way, my best achievement has to be getting off the showground in one piece!

Biggest showing achievement?

That would come from a mother and daughter duo, Rhapsody taking reserve inter-breed at UK Dairy Expo and her daughter Rosa taking reserve Supercow at Agriscot. Perhaps a touch of the ‘always the bridemaids’…but one day…

Best sale day?

In 2016 we hauled a yearling Snickerdoodle to the South of France, to the World Swiss Convention sale. Sienna was led into the ring to the sound of bagpipes playing Amazing Grace under a spotlight. The atmosphere ring side was unreal and would have made the day unforgettable, except that Sienna made it better still, topping the sale and breaking the French and British records at €10,400. A day I will never forget and still gives me goosebumps to this day!

Best animal you have ever shown?

Oh dear! I can’t! I can’t narrow it down to one… so four it is…

Kedar TD Reia – the cow that started it all really.

Her daughter Rhapsody – the cow that woke folks up to the Kedar herd!!

Her daughter Rosa – the cow that loves the show Ring.

Kedar Sanchia Maria – the cow that we believe is our true type… the cow we model our breeding to.

But what is the best animal you have ever seen?

Snickerdoodle! Snick was a wow cow, she had everything. She’s been criticised for not breeding but anyone is welcome to take a stroll round the herd and make that judgement call for themselves.

Abiding memory?

There are many memories that stick out, but one that has a very special place, has to be my daughter, Hattie at the All Britain Calf Show.

Watching the hard work that our little girl puts in before shows is what showing is really about, it’s a lesson that life doesn’t teach so many kids and presents opportunities that they wouldn’t get otherwise.

Hattie leading Rhapsolutely to All Britain Champion, when she was just eight-years-old, will never leave my memory! She returned to the show a year later and won reserve champion Showman. I guess watching her successes and her smiles, make even the worst days worthwhile.

Biggest disappointment?

Not getting to Europe! We’ve tried the past two European shows to take a team of cows, each time we get a little closer before the red tape scuppers us at the last minute! We shall try again for the next one!

Have you missed out on a big purchase you wanted?

Nowt! I haven’t bought many animals in, but I’ve managed one way or another to secure the ones I needed! That doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few families I’m keen to get into, I just haven’t had the opportunity to do so!

Your choice of best stockman ever?

A guy that many UK folks won’t have maybe heard of, but I urge you to google this fella – Wayne Sliker, a legend of the Brown Swiss breed. His ability to breed and develop cow families and promote his herd and breed bulls, has had a massive global impact on the whole breed.

Favourite quote?

Selwyn Donald, UK Dairy Expo 2019 when giving reasons on our 16-year-old 12th calver … ‘This cow is like the equivalent of watching your granny winning the marathon!’.

Best advice for someone starting off in the industry?

Work hard, ask questions and try and learn from those that inspire you!

Best investment?

Old Mill Starbuck Spottie. She has turned out to be the matriarch of our herd, her influence in the herd is unreal, each generation from her is better than the last and she is just an incredible brood cow. She is living out her retirement in the paddock by the shop, loving life.

The future of the showing circuit?

People still love good cows and showing is the best way of showcasing the very best. It’s a cost-effective marketing method, that people forget and it often gets put to the bottom of the priorities pile. But when it is done right, a bit of time and effort and suddenly all your stock promotion is done for you! As for the future, these things are always developing and evolving, perhaps the show cow of old has passed and a more functional commercially viable animal has started to take the limelight. I hope the future sees more people shifting into the Brown Swiss breed and more people opening their eyes to the possibilities they hold!

Could you imagine your life without showing?

We’ve had to live a life without showing over the past 18 months, it was OK, but it wasn’t full of the thrills and spills that showring gives!

The future of the industry?

The future must be focused on direct consumer supply, with farmers of all disciplines beginning to find a way of marketing and setting their prices.

Direct sales and diversification are increasingly necessary with the perpetual low milk prices. We have been making cheese and bottling milk for nearly four years and recently opened a farm shop. It’s evident from market research that people are keen to shop local, shop for sustainable produce and support the industry, they just need to be given that opportunity and educated by farmers not YouTube!