Jersey Cow and its importance in
our cultural and economic development
By Anne Perchard
This is a copy of the Societe Jersiasise's Annual Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture presented by Mrs. Anne Perchard, President of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau on 13the September 1998 at the Howard Davis Farm, Trinity, Jersey.
The Jersey cow and its importance in our cultural and economic development - in other words, the animal and the environment that has made it what it is. All living species of animal and plant develop and change over the generations by a process of selection, due to the pressure of environment both natural and man made. The Jersey breed is no exception. It is the product of the Island, its soil, its climate, its people and their history.
The origin of the Jersey breed, as of most breeds is shrouded in obscurity. It is known that in prehistoric times, 100,000 years ago Neanderthal man lived in caves like those of La Cotte, St. Brelade and La Cotte a Chevre, L`Etacq. Of the animals that he preyed on or who preyed on him some of the largest were the fierce Aurochs, Bos Primigenus, whose modern representative is the Jersey cow. Homo Sapiens replaced Neanderthal man in Europe about 30,000 years ago and was responsible for the remarkable wall paintings in the caves at Lascaux and Les Eysees in the Dordogne some 350 miles to the SE of Jersey. It is obvious from those that he had a special interest in the Aurochs for a great many of the paintings are of bulls and cows. He may even have practiced some cult of worship of the Bull.
The great breakthrough towards civilization, when man discovered how to cultivate wheat and grain, and to domesticate wild animals, came about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East in the Valley of the Tigris and Euphrates and the hills of Turkey, which were then far more fertile and wooded than now. In an astonishingly short time - a matter of a few hundred years it led to village and town life, the beginnings of the sort of world we know today. It is probable, that before actual domestication, herding had been going on, with a family tribe following one particular herd of Aurochs, relying on it for food and skins and protecting the herd as best they could from its other enemies. Soon a smaller variant of Aurochs appeared. This apparently is one of the usual effects of domestication, we do not know. Anyhow, this small type, on account of the formation of its skull, is known as Bos Longifrons. All our European domestic breeds of cattle still roamed the forest and domestic cattle were kept in clearings, there must obviously have been a good deal of interbreeding.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that according to papyrus records of about 2,500 BC, the Ancient Egyptians, who tried to domesticate practically every kind of animal they could find, even giraffe, used to catch and domesticate the wild cattle even though they already had quite distinct breeds of domestic types. And, incidentally, if anyone thinks that the idea of putting coats on cattle and tethering them by head claims and training horns is a purely local custom in Jersey, they can see in an Egyptian tomb of about 3,000 BC, a wall painting of exactly that scene. Just how, or when during the 10,000 years since it first appeared, the Bos Longifrons type got from the Middle East to Jersey we do not know. It would seem though, that sometime in its development and passage to the West, the ancestors of the Jersey breed with its early sexual maturity, its fine bone, thin skin and tolerance to heat had been subjected to a process of selection to enable them to thrive in a hot, semi-tropical climate, so it is not unreasonable to assume that these ancestors came from the Middle East probably via North Africa and up through Spain and Morocco. There are now Jersey type cows in Egypt and Morocco. There are also in Sahara the Tassili Frescoes of a date prior to 2,000 BC showing Bos Longifrons. Most probably the people who brought this type of cattle from North Africa to Jersey were the Iberians, a small dark haired race who had been squeezed out of North Africa, had wandered across Spain and France to Normandy and Brittany and, finding Jersey uninhabited, settled there probably around 7,000 BC. We cannot tell whether or not there was a nucleus of cattle on the island when the sea cut it off from the mainland or if all were brought in later. We do of course know that cattle were still being imported up to the first half of the 19th Century. From the time of the Iberians till the Norman conquest by William Longsword in 931 AD, Jersey had been overrun by the Gauls in 700 BC before it formed part of the Roman Empire around 56 BC. After the collapse in North-west Europe, the Franks became the new masters in the 5th Century AD. At the same time, Christian Celts from Britain arrived, fleeing from the Anglo-Saxon invasions. During the ninth century; Jersey, the other Channel Islands and the Cotentin were plundered again and again by the Vikings on their annual raids till peace came with the Norman Conquest. It is not known what happened to cattle during periods of unrest and plundering. It is recorded that Vikings from the Loire accepted 500 brown cows as tribute from a Breton king during that time. Needless to say meat and milk were necessary for survival and somehow or other some of the cattle must have lived on to eventually form new herds.
It was in the interest of the new Norman rulers, who turned out to be remarkably enlightened, to encourage agriculture as the basis of a prosperous community and economy, and this they did- During the Middle Ages each small farm kept pigs for meat, a cow or two for milk and butter and a yoke of oxen to draw a cart and help with ploughing. Over the ensuing centuries the true wealth of the islanders depended on farming, fishing and their exports to England and elsewhere. These included pickled eels, oysters, knitted garments, cider apples, cod fish from Newfoundland and more recntly early potatoes, tomatoes and flowers. But the export for which the Island has been renowned all over the world is of course the Jersey Cow.
It is known that animals from Jersey were being exported in increasing numbers as early as the 1700s - emigrants from Jersey took cows with them to provide milk on board. Recently on the homepage of the Poingdestre family on the Internet, it reads that George Poingdestre took some Jersey cows with him to the USA in 1657 - Jerseys (or Alderneys as they were more often called) were very popular to have on board by some sea-captains, especially on long voyages. Once the destination had been reached the poor creatures were quite often cast over board to swim ashore. What thanks!
Also, at this time, the numbers of English visitors coming to Jersey on holidays were increasing and some of these were very attracted to this small docile cow with the very rich milk. There were increasing demands for extra livestock in England as well and exports were encouraged after the dreadful endemic cattle plague of rindepeste had once again taken its toll. It was the. It was the beginning of a prosperous time for agriculturists.
During the second half of the 1700s as well as trade between the islands, many cattle from Normandy were shipped into Jersey to be sold on to English markets after being pastured in the island for a few months. Being sold on as Alderney cattle on the mainland, they escaped the excise duty imposed by the English Government on cattle from foreign countries. The French economy was in a bad way, due mainly to the Napoleanic wars and this loophole helped financially. Again, a lucrative trade for the farmers involved in it. People in England complained as the markets became glutted with these animals. In 1763, pressure was put on the States to stop this illegal trade. It banned the importation of live cattle, sheep and goats from Normandy into Jersey and imposed heavy fines. However, the law was not observed by farmers - it had to be renewed in 1789 (26 years later) "the fraudelent importation of cattle from France having become a most alarming matter". "A severe fine, forfeiture of the boat, the slaughter of the beast with the meat to be distributed to the poor" were the penalties. This time the legislation was more effective, although a traveller`s guide written by William Gerard Walmesley in 1812 states that on August 1st, he and his companion visited Rozel harbour " situated at the foot of mountainous ground which is much frequented by French boats that run over from the opposite coast with cattle etc." along with a drawing of the Military Barracks and the French boats which had just arrived with cattle. It needed more acts passed in 1826, 1864 and 1878 to finally put a stop to this trade. It then meant that even cattle were sent over to the English shows were not allowed to return and the trade of live animals between Guernsey, Alderney and Jersey prohibited. This law proved to have many benefits to the breed on the island. It served to isolate it from the ravages of the deadly cattle plague rindepeste which had been endemic in Europe for centuries and flared up from time to time. As late as 1865 over a third of a million cattle had been affected in the UK alone and because of its import restrictions Jersey remained unaffected. But now, most important of all, was the ability for the breed to develop its purity and strengths.
As this time all Channel Island breeds shipped to the mainland were called Alderneys - possibly because the last port of call for ships sailing from the islands was Alderney - the ships themselves were also called Alderney Paquets. As early as the 1820s wealthy landowners in different places around the world began to discuss the advantages of the Alderney breed.
King Wilhelm of Wurtemberg bought some cows in 1824 from the Duke of Bedford and exhibited them in Stuttgart in 1827.
The third Secretary of State in the USA, Timothy Pickering of Salem, Massachusetts became interested in the breed during the 1820s. He wrote several letters about the improvement of the Alderney in Massachusetts. These are now in the Massachusetts History Society archives.
It was not until the Royal Show in 1844 that Channel Island cattle were recognized for the first time and not until 1862 (20 years later) at the Royal Agricultural Society of England`s show at Battersea that Jerseys and Guernseys were allowed separate classes. The amzing increasing popularity of the Jersey is well evidenced by the Royal Society`s International Show at Kilburn in 1879, when 253 Jerseys were entered out of a total entry of 930. Ten years later at Windsor, Jersey entries numbered 434. But the name Alderney stuck fast for years with many people. Even in the 1920s, A.A. Milne, in his delightful poem "The Kings Breakfast", the King asks a little grumpily:-
Could we have some butter
The Dairymaid, she curtsied
There is also no doubt that the ban on importation could not have happened at a better time for the Jersey breed.
Thomas Quayle in 1815 in his fascinating "Survey of the Norman Isles" states that "next to the possession of vraic, the treasure highest in a Jerseyman`s estimation is his cow. She seems to be a constant object of his thoughts and attention. That attention she certainly deserves but she absorbs it too exclusively. His horse he treats unkindly - his sheep most barbarously - but on this idolized cow his affections are riveted as those of an Eastern Brahmin on the same animal. It is true that in summer she must submit to be staked to the ground - but 5 or 6 times a day her station is shifted. In winter she is warmly housed by night and fed with the precious parsnip. When she calves she is regaled with toast and the nectar of the Island, cider to which powdered ginger is added". He continues by pointing out the advantages of the breed over any other.
"Firstly, the quantity and quality of cream produced from a given amount of fodder and secondly, the female propagates at an early age - generally 2 years or even younger."
However he does state that "no systematic experiments have been made as yet to carefully select individuals to improve the breed. It is only when a cow is famed as a good milker that her male progeny is preserved". He was optimistic about the potential of the Jersey but he was concerned about the limitations local circumstances might place upon its improvement. He was also very surprised to see bulls that had been castrated and as oxen were pulling carts and ploughs, reach the height of 16 hands at the withers.
In England and Scotland, the Industrial Revolution was soon followed by the Agricultural Revolution, emphasis being placed on the future of agriculture and interest in its many new problems and challenges, realizing that the proper cultivation of the soil and the improvement of breeds of lviestock was the mainstay of the nation.
As early as 1777 the Bath and West Society was founded and during the next fifty years, particularly in the early part of the 1800s many similar institutions, some covering restricted areas, came into being. The first Agricultural Society in Jersey was founded in May 1790 by the Rev. Francis Le Couteur, of St. Martin but it foundered in a short time.
The export of cattle was still flourishing and 5,756 head were exported in the 3 years ending in 1832 - however prices had dropped and it was realized that there was a need for some structered agriculture in the Island and particularly in the development of small holdings. On the 26th August 1833 a meeting was held in St. Helier for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of forming an Agricultural and Horticultural Society. The Lieutenant Governor, major General William Thornton occupied the chair, and twenty-five gentlemen and armers were present. Rules and regulations were agreed to and on the 7th of September a public meeting was held - Colonel John Le Couteur, a man of intellect, vision and enthusiasm was nominated secretary and the first resolution carried was "that the encouragement of agricultural and horticultural improvements and improved breeding of cattle would conduce to the general welfare of the island". At the end of 1833, William 4th graciously bestowed his Royal Patronage on the Society and this patronage has been given by succeeding Monarchs ever since. In 1847 a yearling bull and heifer were presented to the Prince Consort on behalf of the Society and these formed the base of the famous herd at Windsor, which has bred and exhibited many champions over the years. When the Monarch has visited the island in the past, the presentation of a top class cow from the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society has been made, to go into the Windsor herd.
In 1834, an official scale of points was agreed. It has been updated several times since to comply with progressive aims.
In 1844, cattle were sent to the Royal Agricultural Society of England`s show in Southampton and were allowed to return to the Island. This went on for another 20 years until it was decided that bringing the animals back was a contravention of the 1789 law and must be stopped. However, it was in 1866 that the most important step forward for the breed took place. The Herd Book was formed to officially register all animals. "Dandy" belonging to Mr. James Godfrey of St. Martin and "Daisy" belonging to Mr. P. Paisnel of St. Clement were the first bull and cow registered. The same year a census taken showed that there were 12,037 head of cattle on the island of which 611 were bulls. In just under 40 years, the cow, which although popular for production, was originally described as having "a long head, bad horns, ewe necked, hollows backed, ear hammed and walking ill" was now an object of beauty with "a lively eye, orange ears, a round barrel, short, fine deer-like limbs, a capacious udder with large developed milk veins and a fine tail", all due to the initiative of the Royal Jersey Agricultural Society. It had improved the breed out of all recognition through shows and exhibitions with good money prizes for the best cattle. No pains were spared in bringing recalcitrant breeders into sharing the judges opinions. Periodical reports pointed out the progress achieved and the defects still to be removed. With the techniques of line and in-breeding, the farmer was probably able to fix and improve certain characteristics more quickly than would have otherwise been possible. It is worth noting that the bulls registered in Jersey over those first years are the ancestors of the millions of pedigree Jersey cattle in the world today.
In 1893, 24-hour butter tests were started. These became a very important way of assessing the production qualities of cows. The parishes also formed their own agricultural societies and have played a very important role in the country-side for many decades encouraging local breeders to show and judge and parading yet more cattle for visitors to buy.
And now we come to the halcyon days of the breed - the period from the 1860s to the First World War were "boom" years for the Island Jersey and was the greatest period of development for the breed worldwide. Memorable moments occurred throughout the period. For many years, 1000 animals per year were shipped to the USA. In 1881 the steady and continued progress in the value of cattle was confirmed with American buyers looking for animals with milk and butter fat properties. Four cows were sold for the amazing sums of £300 each and a heifer and four more cows for £210 each.
But it was in 1882 that a new price ceiling was established when the cow "Khedive`s Primrose" was sold to America for an incredible £1,000 (this sum would have paid the rental of an average size farm including the farm house and buildings for ten years)!
Although records of earlier importations into Australia are not available, it is believed that the first Jerseys came to that country as "ships cows". The first actual reference of a Jersey dates back to 1829 when Mr. J.T. Palmer of Sydney advertised for sale of 200 pure bred Jerseys. New Zealand imported her first Jersey in 1862. In 1876 a Jersey called "Jenny" was purchased for £40 by a Mr. Hulke, who then led her on a rope for a distance of 130 miles to Taranaki. She became the Champion Cow of Taranaki and also won a Butter Fat Test Competition.
In 1868 Canada imported her first Jerseys when a small herd of 15 cows and 2 bulls was brought by Mr. Harrison for his son Sheldon. Mr. Andrew Van Der Byl was the first man to bring Jerseys into South Africa in 1880 - he was a regular importer after that. The breed is now a major player in South Africa`s dairy industry.
In Europe, Sweden imported 250 head in 1893 and Denmark followed with several thousand animals being imported between 1896 and 1909. That country was destined to become world famous for its development of the breed especially for its high butter fat properties. It is difficult to grasp the commercial significance of the cattle export trade during the whole of the 1800s. It was very profitable indeed.
It was in 1884 that the property at Springfield was bought and it was to become the Mecca for overseas visitors coming to see and buy cattle at the shows. In the great years of sales many hundreds of people would flock to Springfield to see the outstanding parades of cattle. Buyers, with their agents, would then select and bid for animals. They would also visit farms to fill in orders.
In 1912 the official recording of lactations began as a growing demand for authentic records of production for the export trade were taken note of. Co-operative dairying became a subject of discussion to better organize the selling of milk to the population.
The Great War put a stop to all exports - after the war there were good and bad times. In 1919 the cattle trade to the USA gathered momentum again and the intensely bred Island bull, Sybil`s Gamboge was sold at public auction there for the amazing sum of $65,000, a record which stood for 60 years, and in real financial terms has never been equaled. The bull was walked down Wall Street in New York such was the excitement at the amazing price paid.
Then the cattle plague rindepeste struck again in England, as did foot and mouth disease, to be followed by the years of the Great Depression.
We now come to the 2nd World War and Jersey`s Occupation. Numbers of cattle dropped dramatically on the island for many reasons - shortage of fodder and the need to feed the population and the German forces especially after D Day being the main ones. Much culling, especially of inferior stock, took place. After the war we experienced good times once more - the first show was regarded as of the highest quality of animals ever exhibited. In 1948, 2041 head left the island, the majority to England, the largest number ever exported in 1 year. These "boom" years, with high prices paid continued well into the 1950s. The top price of £3,500 was paid for a bull - 14,000 animals left Jersey in the 10 years after the war.
In 1968, among much controversy and clashes of opinion the Jersey Artificial Insemination Centre was set up. Semen sales, as predicted, would soon take the place of the sales of bulls, which were declining all around the world as artificial insemination become an acceptable and viable way of exporting genetics. Gradually, demand and prices fell. If one thinks it through it was bound to happen. The cost of shipping cattle to far away countries became increasingly expensive. Breeders in Countries like America, Canada, Denmark and New Zealand now had large populations of Jerseys and were developing the breed to the type of animal for the economic climate in which they had to survive. Also, because of the greater numbers of cattle in the national herds it was possible to test and prove bulls out of top cows to provide faster genetic improvement for production than we had been able to do on the island. One must also accept that the rich gentry of the UK who in the past had bought our most expensive animals because of their beauty (the Jersey has always been known as the Arab of the dairy breeds) to graze their paddocks and provide thick cream and lovely deep yellow butter for their social life style as well as enjoy competing with their friends in the show ring were fast becoming figures of the past. Rising wages for staff, heavier taxes and death duties made this type of farming no longer viable, let alone profitable. Commercial farmers were looking for high production cattle, which returned a good monthly milk cheque to support the bringing up of a family and for the buying of equipment and farms. Many dairymen abroad turned to the Holstein-Friesian breed which had been making such tremendous strides forward since the war as a working farmer`s cow producing many gallons of milk, albeit of a lower quality, but then receiving the same price as for Jersey milk. The Black and White cow also produced a larger and more saleable carcass at the end of her life and the calves were more valuable than the small Jersey ones. So that breed marched relentlessly on, promoting its strengths on a large scale till it formed 80% of the dairy herd worldwide. The Jersey was decreasing in popularity.
However, some 20 years ago, the fast-growing number of cheese factories in the USA began to realize that when Jersey milk was brought in (it was becoming rare then) there was considerably more profit to be made from a gallon of milk with it`s high compositional quality compared with milks from the other breeds on offer. They soon devised a price structure whereby milk was paid for by its total solids. The Jersey dairyman then began to realize he was now in pocket and in real business again. The leaders of the American Jersey Cattle Club used these facts to heavily promote the breed and along with a genetic recovery programme and the vigorous testing and proving of bulls for production traits the Jersey breed was really back in business.
The main dairy countries of the world, New Zealand, Denmark and now the EU are paying their farmers on compositional quality. Other countries are following suit. This structure favours the Channel Island breeds and especially the Jersey. In America and Canada, registrations of calves and the grading-up of non-pedigree herds to full pedigree status is growing at a tremendous rate and the breed has its rail right up! All other breeds`registrations are declining. Sales of cattle, semen and embryos from North America have been booming to all countries of South America (Brazil especially) and also to Central America; New Zealand and Australia. There is now interest in China. Jerseys do much better in tropical countries than other exotic breeds - they can withstand heat much better, they mature earlier, they calve very easily and are probably closer in their genetic make-up to the animals of these hot and humid countries, with their colour and quick adaptability to heat and altitude.
From Denmark export of live Jerseys are going to Eastern Europe and now Russia. Denmark has 200,000 registered Jerseys and sell hundreds of thousands straws of semen to countries such as India annually.
There are estimated to be some 5-6 million pure-bred Jerseys in the world, 3/4 million in North America, 1/2 million in South AMerica, 1/4 million in Africa, 1/2 million in Asia and the Middle East and 1 million in Australia and New Zealand. The pure-bred is just the tip of the iceberg with regards the millions of Jersey type cattle worldwide. The Jersey is used extensively for cross-breeding. India is a prime example of the upgrading of indigenous cattle and today some 25 million cows are crossed with Jersey bulls to produce tuture generations of more productive animals. More than one breed of cattle has, as its main progenitor, the Jersey cow. One of the best known breeds in the Tropics is the Jamaican Hope breed which contains 90% of Jersey blood.
And so we return to the small island where it all began - what does the future hold for our breed on this 9 by 5 mile island? In 1866 there were 12,000 head, all on very small holdings. In 1973 there were 8,000 head on 344 farms, now in 1998 (25 years on) there are some 4,360 cows on 52 farms sending milk to the dairy and with young stock, a total of just over 6,000 head. The average number of cows in a herd is around 80 and along with the UK is the highest herd size population in Europe. Why is this happening?
Of course, one must accept that this trend is going on in every sphere of business - words like "specialization", "economy of scale", "improvement of management skills" are "buzz-words" in all industries. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on modernizing and up-grading the dairy industry in recent years and with more emphasis on environmental issues paramount in the demands of the consumer more investment will be necessary. We now have herds of over 100 milkers and even half a dozen or so gearing up to handle 200-plus. The days of the man or woman willing to commit themselves 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year are almost gone. Very soon, we shall see the retirement of the dozen or so older persons who are prepared to farm in this way. The sons and daughters of farmers now have opportunities to move on through the superb education system offered by the Island and choose not to farm but to work in more lucrative jobs, mainly in the very buoyant financial industry, with five-day weeks, long paid holidays, bonuses and so much more leisure time. The concern has been in the Island that not sufficient milk for its needs will be produced in the future if this trend continues.
We are fortunate that the States decided many years ago that all fresh
liquid milk requirements should come only from the island herd. Nevertheless
it is not envisaged that with the dernise of further small herds there
will be less milk produced. The large herds are improving their management
and breeding skills all the time and with the use of improved techniques
for monitoring feed and health the production per cow is increasing annually.
The emphasis for income now is milk production rather than sales - the
price paid for a good average heifer is £1,000 and what does that
buy? After the war my father sold a young bull for export for £1,000
and with that money he bought a tractor and family car. Now one needs £20,000
to buy a small tractor and what does one pay for a car? The whole emphasis
has changed. The large herds keep just enough calves for replacement purposes,
so not all heifer calves are neede, as in former times. The small specialist
breeder who cannot for one reason or another expand still keeps all his
heifers and hopes to sell them for export or even locally; something that
would never have been contemplated years ago. Many top breeders then sold
"for export only". Fifteen years ago when the EEC (as it was then) introduced
quality payments, interest in the Jersey breed in countries like Italy
and France grew, and in Jersey there was an upturn in demand for stock.
Prices and demand increased and for those few years the signs were encouraging.
The trend to keeping more heifers began once more. Then the dreadful disease
of Bovine Spongiform Encaphylitus (BSE or "mad cow disease) struck in the
UK to be followed by cases in Jersey itself. In 1990, Europe put up the
shutters to import of cattle, semen and embryos into the continent. This
became a worldwide embargo which has effectively stopped all overseas markets
bying for the past eight years. We now await the results of the scientist`
on-going work to find the root cause of the disease. We anticipate the
lifting of the embargo on sales by the EU now that the disease is being
eradicated and the very strict regulations on feed and carcass disposal
imposed by the British Government are being seen to work effectively.
The question of in-breeding in a closed herd for the past 200 years often arises. You may well appreciate that, due to the relatively small number of cows for testing and giving statistical information and also the fact that even the use of plus-proven semen from outside the Island is forbidden by law, it is therefore impossible to test our young bulls sufficiently quickly to keep up with countries with large populations. During the past 20 years much thought and discussion has gone on about these problems. In the early 80`s Professor Ken Deeble, an eminent UK geneticist, was called in to assess the situation and although, surprisingly, he found no in-breeding to cause concern, he did advocate a very small importation of plus-proven semen for four years only, to allow a wider genetic base to develop. But this was dynamite to the older, established breeders and the scheme was thrown out in the States by 2-1 (votes). There is, nevertheless, no doubt at all, that in the production stakes, we are all falling behind, compared with the more advanced countries. However, there are traits in our island herd which are recognized as very desirable - these are overall conformation and strength of our cattle with special accents on udder shape and teat placement. There was a second States` debate in the mid 80`s to allow plus-proven semen from selected bulls, again on a limited scale, but this failed once more, the more traditional breeder wooing the politicians yet again, to vote against. In 1987, Professor Jim Allen,, another renowned geneticist from Stellenbosch University, South Africa was invited to stay in the island for three months to fully research the situation. His findings were most interesting. Again, there was no in-breeding to be concerned with. He advised however, that before importation of semen be allowed, island breeders should work together (something which had before been always difficult to achieve) to test 15 selected young bulls a year. They should strictly commit breeding half of their herds to these young bulls. The States Committee of Agriculture offered a carrot of £150 per heifer lactation completed at 3 years-old. The majority of breeders agreed and signed the contract. The scheme is now in its tenth year (albeit a little different from the original). It has proved to be a most constructive development and a very valuable aid in the improvement of the breed.
The island is fortunate that the directive of free movement of cattle within the EU is prohibited in Jersey. We have a strong case for the prevention of any other breed of cattle being allowed into the Island. Historically 200 years of a closed herd, even to semen, the clean bill of health our cattle have, due to the non-movement of stock, hopefully will continue to stand us in good stead. This protection is vital to the industry.
We are also successful in marketing our milk through Jersey Milk, our Farmers` Cooperative. For the past 18 years under the Commercial Executive - a very business orientated, forward-looking and effecient body, the hygienic quality of our products is second to none. These command very good sales in an extremely difficult market place with massive competition. The producers and dairy work well together to produce very high quality products for the demands of today`s market place, which is as it should be.
The Department of Agriculture encourages embryo transfer work and testing of young bulls along with all the other modern aids to the industry e.g. milk recording and an animal data base, injecting considerable sums into them for which breeders are most appreciative. Almost 100% of the island`s herd is milk recorded - a valuable tool when assessing statistics.
That just about brings us up-to-date, however, the story would be incomplete without telling you of our umbrella organization the World Jersey Cattle Bureau, now safely housed in its true home - the Island of Jersey. I will take you back to the year 1947 - 50 years ago.
As the Jersey cow spread around the world, it was inevitable that sooner or later an organization would evolve to bring all interested parties together to further promote and develop the breed. The seed that led to the formation of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau appears to have been planted by the indignation of Jersey breeders in the Union of South Africa during 1947.
The stimulus for this development was a "Jersey explosion" that hit South Africa following World War Two whereby demand for female stock far exceeded supply. Many Jerseys of doubtful quality were being imported into South Africa from other countries.
The late SDG Rossow, a breeder and member of the South African Council suggested that a "world organization" should be formed to bring Jersey breeders from all over the world together and thus introduce some uniformity and control in the import and export standards of Jerseys. The President of the South African Society, Mr. G. Vernon Crookes is credited with providing the initiative and becoming the motivating force in the eventual formation of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau.
The Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society was invited to host a conference over four days which took place in May 1949. Twenty-five delegates representing thirteen countries attended and at the final session Mr. E. Lea Marsh from the USA proposed that a World Federation be formed. Great endeavours followed to prepare the basis of a constitution, guided by Professor Albert Messervy who had been nominated temporary President until the next conference, two years later. In October 1951, they discussed and finalized the structure of the organization now known as the World Jersey Cattle Bureau.
Its objectives were summed up in the 4 main points of its constitution..
1. To promote the welfare and safeguard the interests of the Jersey
breed of cattle throughout the world.
The success of the Bureau is that it has given the opportunity for people from all over the world to discuss mutual roblems and open up new ideas, predominantly via the conferences, held every three years and through its publications.
The conference in 1949 set a precedent for other conferences, with business and pleasure combined. The island welcomed the delegates with typical Jersey hospitality, entertaining them in a manner which other countries have reciprocated with equal sincerity. Amongst the papers presented were the important subjects of "export and import requirements", "the value of Jersey milk in relation to other milks" and "production, recording and standardization".
At the first meeting of the General Council in 1951, ten societies were accepted as full members of the Bureau - tehse were the Australian Jersey Herd Society, the Canadian Jersey Cattle Club, the Danish Jersey Cattle Society, the English Jersey Cattle Society, the Jersey Society of East Africa, the Jersey Breeders Society of Sweden, the Jersey Cattle Breeders Society of South Africa, the New Zealand Jersey Cattle Breeders Association, the Syndicat Jersiase de France and the Royal Jersey Agricultural Society. This all happened nearly 50 years ago. In 2001, we look forward to a great celebration in Jersey of our 50th Anniversary. SInce 1951, fourteen international conferences have been held and more than 200 papers have been presented. Looking through them they represent the problems, advances and scientific thoughts of their time and show the continuing progress of the breed over the years.
As the Bureau has developed and more member countries have joined its ranks, the Annual Council Meetings have provided countries with smaller and new Jersey cattle populations to host them. A fairly recent decision has been made to include Regional Conventions at these meetings so as to discuss specific regional topics with breeders, who might not in many instances be able to travel to the International Conferences.
Over the past decade Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico have been some of the countries visited where jerseys are increasing in numbers and popularity and where there is a desire for knowledge and promotion. To date there are eleven Full national Members and sixteen National Association Members, the Czech Republic and Mexico being the latest new members.
In 1989 a Life membership Scheme was introduced - there are now almost 600 members. This had had a two fold advantage. Firstly -giving individuals the opportunity to belong to the Bureau and receive the bulletins and newsletters published annually, and secondly - to provide funds for the Bureau. The Bureau has limited financial resources which are derived from National Membership fees conference and convention fees and Life membership fees.
In 1992 major developments with the Constitution and Rules were ratified after a very positive Think Tank held in Ohio - a Mission Statement was also endorsed. This was in order to bring the Bureau up-to-date with the present needs of the industry. A milestone in it`s history was the official opening of the headquarters which took place at the Howard Davis Farm, Trinity on 15th July 1992 with local breeders and overseas delegates, after the special feature show during the post conference tour of the UK to the Island. The World Centre, which incidentally will be moving on into the RJA & HS` prestigious new development when it is built, has a dual role. It will provide a historical library of a unique collection of books and artifacts on the breed but most important is its primary function to act as an information centre where scientific research into dairying and particularly the Jersey breed worldwide is stored. It collects information, indexes it, promotes and distributes it to all parts of the world - in fact its intention is to become a database to the breed. With today`s communications and modern technology the Bureau plays an ever more important international role encouraging exchange of ideas between countries and helping developing countries to recognize the advantages of the Jersey cow. It also gives Jersey breeders the opportunity to travel, learn and make friends with others across the world. It provides a facility for information on a common subject to be channeled from one source to another worldwide.
The International Youth Exchange Scheme, whereby young people can travel to any country to work with Jerseys offers opportunities second to none in an era when the involvement of young people in the industry is so vital. This is a real success story helped greatly by an annual donation from the Sir James Knott Trust Fund to help finance travel.
The recent grant of £10,000 for three years from the States through the Committee of Agriculture is a much appreciated gesture, which we feel shows confidence in our work.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, we are all aware that in this rapidly
developing world we must all be acceptable to change, or perish. The year
2000 and beyond will herald yet more challenges. The EU and continuing
World Trade Organisation discussions will make the world a still smaller
place trade-wise and competition in the market-place will become even more
severe. it is a salutary thought to note that in Europe there is a long
term decline in agriculture. 80% of Europe`s rood is produced by 20% of
its farmers. 2000 farmers are leaving the industry annually in the UK.
By the end of the 21th century, who knows, with the amazing technological
advances being made, amachine may well have been invented that gobbles
up forage at one end and delivers any kind of milk product at the other
end just by pressing a button! The famous breeds of cattle will then be
gazed at in preservation parks! In my book, a nightmare scenario and not
to be dwelt on.
Let us be positive.
Today, in many of the emerging countries the Jersey breed is proving itself to be the Number One cow for all reasons and all seasons and has a great future in hellping to feed hungry populations.
In the developed world, the payment structure for the compositional quality of milk is giving the breed new and exciting prospects for profitability in a demanding marketplace.
And here, in Jersey, we know that, whereas previous to World War Two, agriculture was one of the mainstays of the economy, it now accounts for just 4% of GNP and we often feel that our farming industry is very vulnerable.
Nevertheless, the Island of Jersey is the fountainhead of a very important and popular breed of cattle. Of all the coloured breeds in the world, 80% are Jerseys. The Island is still the Mecca to be visited by breed enthusiasts and revered as the true home of the breed. I have a profound respect for today`s dairymen and women of Jersey. They are very intelligent, highly trained and motivated. I believe they can cope with any situation with vision and true Jersey determionation and will work to ensure a viable living with this amazingly versatile, hardworking and much appreciated, beautiful and unique Jersey Breed.
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