Breeding the Jersey at Home
by T.F. Le Ruez
.[World Jersey Cattle Bureau. Ninth International Conference held
on the Island of Jersey from 13th to 21st May, 1979]
First of all, let us remember that we live in a tiny Island, where land
is scarce and its prosperity over the years has depended on intensive farming.
Although often taking second place to the Jersey Potato, the Jersey Cow
has adapted to this and was bred to produce a lot of milk with the minimum
amount of food. Her true value is in producing the largest return per acre.
She also has to be presentable and respond to our system of tethering or
more modern-day methods.
In compiling this short paper, I feel that I have to look back to nearly
a century, when serious consideration to breeding on the best bloodlines
was already in practice. At that time Mr. J.P. Marett of St. Saviour was
instrumental in breeding through a black cow named "Sultane", two animals
which have had a tremendous influence on the breed, namely "Golden Lad"
and "Oxford Lass".
The bull "Golden Lad", subsequently bought by my grandfather, Mr. Francis
Le Brocq, stood for service at the farm where I now live, until he was
exported to England. This bull dominated the scene for several years through
his progeny and his blood came through the "Golden Ferns", "Nobles" and
"Volunteers" and their descendants to this day. It has been said that practically
every living cow or bull in Jersey is descended from him. The cow "Oxford
Lass", bred by Mr. G.P. Perredes, was closely related to "Golden Lad" through
her sire. She was foundress of the Oxford family, which was closely bred
and developed through the years by the Mourant family, producing the great
"Sybils Gamboge", who traced seven times out of a possible eight to the
same animal "Oxford Lass".
This breeding was followed by the late Mr. E.C. Perredes, who bred "Sybil`s
Successpr", "Lady Oxfordia", "Oxfordia Oxford Lad" and many other intensively
line-bred animals until his death some twelve years ago. Several breeders
on the Island have carried on these bloodlines with success, without losing
the dairy qualities and stamina of this strain; although it must be said
that periodically Mr. Perredes would seek an outcross bull, such as "Lord
of the Isle", "Favourite Volunteer" and "Fountain Natalie`s Dazzler" to
mention just three. The latter, bred to the intensively bred Oxford cow,
"Munifordia`s Oxfordia 2nd" produced "Munifordia`s Oxfordia 4th", twice
2.000 gallon cow. This calculated risk proved successful, but unfortunately
Mr. Perredes did not live to see the result. At the dispersal sale of his
herd, it was my privilege to purchase the dam, carrying the calf "Munifordia`s
Oxfordia 4th". If an outcross is made, the resultant progeny should be
bred back to the old line.
"Oxford Lass" also played her part in the building up of the Design
family. The late Mr. J.A. Perree, having purchased the cow "Oxford Triumph",
a double grand-daughter of "Oxford Lass", bred her to "Golden Fern`s Noble"
and she produced the three full brothers "Fern Oxford Noble 1st, 2nd and
3rd". The latter being the sire of "Design`s Fern Oxford". These lines
have been developed in the eastern part of the Island by the late Mr. T.
Renouf and others, and also by the late Mr. Anley Richardson whose
skill and devotion as a breeder, produced the "lynn`s", so ably carried
on by his sons today. These, and many other breeders, which I could mention,
had a flair for breeding or in other words, the "eye" for a cow, and bred
to their own theory.
Let us remember that with a number of bulls available and disease-free
herds, the breeder in Jersey has had, and still has, a distinct privilege
of using the bull of his choice.
The late Mr. N.J. Perree, who developed the Day Dreams, practised very
close breeding. He told me one day that even if he bred out, he always
tried to breed to a bull, whose dam was by a Day Dream bull. As an example,
by breeding "Day Dream 76" to "Browny`s Designer", whose dam was by "Dreaming
Pioneer", he produced "Dreaming Victor", sire of "Itaska`s Fillpail Dream",
(1.000 lb Fat cow) and many other top cows. The Design -Day Dream cross
has been most satisfactory, and proven by many breeders including Mr. J.E.
Gaudin, producing "Design Victorious Dreamer" and other noted animals.
I do not wish to dwell any longer on the past but I wanted to establish
how line-breeding to good families has been the way to success both on
TYPE and PRODUCTION. Invariably, the bulls or cows, which have stood out
over the years, in many cases, are double grandsons or grand-daughters
of some outstanding animal.
New strains have evolved through careful breeding; to mention just
a few; the Natalies family was developed by the late Dr. Stapleton, whose
ambition was to increase the butterfat content. Unfortunately he did not
live to see the full success of his efforts, as shown in the recent successes
in the herd of Mr. L.J. Rondel, who has produced three generations of 1.000
lb. butterfat cows, and also in my own herd. The ItaskaFillpails and the
old-established Ceres bloodlines together with the introduction of "Brilliant
of Oaklands has produced the presnet day "Dazzlers". These bloodlines blended
with the "Louise" strain, which we have bred for over eighty years, produced
the bull "Browny`s Louise Sparkler", so successfully used in Her Majesty
the Queen`s Herd at Windsor, as well as many other note-worthy animals.
It is significant, that when good herds are dispersed, the strain often
disappears unless some interested breeder takes them up and follows the
owner`s line of breeding. Unfortunately, through not keeping up the family
name when registering an animal, it`s identity can be lost, for example,
the famous cow "Supreme Vedas Design" is a direct maternal descendant of
the old "Willonyx" strain successfully bred by the Avrill family.
Experience has shown that the best animals are not necessarily out
of Champions either for production or type, but from good cow families
with no serious fault on either side of their pedigrees, and I may say
that in personal experience, the best breeding bulls that we have
ever had, would never have sold on paper or perhaps would not even have
been allowed to be registered or qualified. They were kept because
of the knowledge of their background. On such bull was "Ceres Royal" who
was one of the first Medal of Merit bulls in Jersey. Another sired a heifer
which gave 19.000 lb. of milk with her first calf and went on to produce
23.000 lb of milk in one year in South Africa.
At this point, I would say that any breeder who works with his cows,
is the best judge of which bulls to keep and should be given every encouragement.
He should be allowed to prove his theories and after all, he is the one
to lose if he proves wrong.
Another theory not accepted by everyone but which is favoured by breeders
on the Island, is to retain a bull from a first-calf heifer if she is good
and has the proper background. The feeling is that she is more full-blooded
and consequently will breed more true to type.It must be said that some
of the good cows, from whom several bulls have been used, the first ones
have been the best, although there are exceptions of good bulls coming
from old cows, notably "Rush Fern Oxford Junior".
This brings me to the subject of present days methods of proving bulls
on the contemporary comparison of their first calf daughters.
Are we attaching too much importance to this?
This cuts right across the concept of what breeders on the Island have
been taught from an early age: Not to push heifers especially at calving
and through theri first lactation, to prevent undue stress on the udder
in order to preserve them for a long life in the herd - particularly significant
with more modern methods.
Some of the very bedst bulls have produced daughters which were rather
slow to mature, perhaps rather disappointing with their first lactation
but which blossomed out and became high producers later, keeping their
udder attachments longer than those who matured quickly. As I look around,
I see cows of eight to ten years of age giving fifty to sixty pounds of
milk a day, still with wellattached udders, by bulls who were scrapped
because they were minus on the results of their first-calf daughters.
Therefore I would like to see more follow-up on second and subsequent
lactations before potentially good bulls are condemned. Surely a long,
useful life in the herd is important together with such qualities as regular
calving, ease of milking and an even temperament!
Two of the first cows to produce over 1.000 lb butterfat in Jersey,
only produced 6.000 lb. of milk on their first lactation and yet one of
them, "Itaska`s Fillpail Dream", which I have already referred to, gave
17.797 lb. milk and 1127 lb. butterfat in he eight lactation at the age
of eleven. The other "Spring Louise" gave 17.540 lb. of milk and 966 lb.
fat at ten years of age and in her next lactation at eleven, she went on
to produce 17.777 lb. milk at 5.8% and 1.027 lb. butterfat. Both these
cows retained their udder attachments till their death.
If I may be allowed to quote the 1st Mr. Ben Cooper, speaking at a
Dairy Conference in Wales in September 1977 as saying, "You must not delude
yourselves that you will get an extra 100 gallons by using a plus 100 bull.
It just does not happen like that! Cow families are much more impotant".
If this applies to Friesians, it surely applies to Jerseys!
With fever breeders at the present day and more use of AI, it was felt
that there was a danger of losing some of our bloodlines. I was not of
this opionion. But any possible danger that there may have been, has been
overcome by the joint support of the Department of Agriculture and the
Breed Society, who have formed a Livestock Advisory Panel. With their help,
semen from proven bulls is stored and also aid is given to proving promising
young bulls. Thought is also being given to storing semen from bulls sold
for export, if he buyer and seller are agreable.
Most of the well-known strains are still in very good hands and old
strains are being revived by some of the younger breeders and I feel that
there is still quite a lot of genetic material which has not yet been tapped.
There are still several herds on the Island, where no showing or even recording
is done and within them are some very good animals of first-class breeding,
which have not been exploited. Remember "Brampton Basilua" came from such
a herd in Jersey, many years ago.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall be seeking the same answers
at the next Conference, still realising that two and two still do not always
Of one thing, I feel confident, however, and that is that whatever
is required of the Jersey cow in the future, she will adapt to it nad will
never let us down if we ae loyal to her and treat her right!.