Jerseys in America.
By Lynn Copeland.
Any chronicle of Jerseys in America should properly begin with the introduction
of the breed to our shores. Unfortunately, there is no definite record of the first
Jerseys (or ALderneys, as they were frequently called a generation ago) brought to America
or who brought them over. Without doubt, our first Jerseys were not imported by any
dairymen in this country or by any cattle dealer but instead by some uncommon for sailing
ships to carry their milk supply and sometimes their meat on the hoof. Channel Island
cattle were usually preferred because of their small size. It is known that cattle dealers
in England catered to captains of ships in supplying cows from the Channel Islands. It is
readily possible that at the completion of the voyages some of these cows were sold to
settlers in AMerica. The Colonial settlers possessed their flocks and herds and it is
conceivable that some of their cattle came from Jersey Island.
The American Jersey Cattle Club records show that the first Jerseys which were
registered were imported in 1850, nine imported in that year, being entered later in
Volume I of the Herd Register. During the next decade a few were brought over annually and
later 236 of these were accepted for registration after the founding of the Club in 1868.
By that time, the breed had increased considerably along the eastern coast and a need
developed for more accurate records of ancestry and breeding. Consequently, in 1868, the
first dairy cattle breed or registry association, the American Jersey Cattle Club, was
founded by a small group of pioneer breeders. The Club was incoporated in 1880 and it is
significant to note today that, in the original charter, the object of incorporation
was for "improving the breeding of Jersey cattle in the United States." ALso,
when the founders adopted, for the motto of the Club, the Latin phrase, Omnis pecuniae
pecus fundamentum, their inspiration was born of a knowledge of a real historical fact. In
the early days of Rome and Greece the herd was literally the "foundation of all
wealth" and values were even expressed in terms of cattle.
Since 1868, the history of the Jersey cow in America has been intimately associated
with the American Jersey Cattle Club. The various programs of the Club, the score card,
its extension and promotional activities have all definitely affected the breed and the
spread of the breed throughout the country. A few of these programs have been original but
many were first inaugurated by breeders themselves and then adopted by the organization
Probably, the first program adopted by the Club with regard to improving the breed
was the score card. Previously a score card or scale of points, for what was considered
desirable type, had been adopted on the Island of Jersey 1834. In 1872, the Directors of
the Club appointed a committee to formulate a new scale. The first scale of points,
adopted in 1872, is of historical interest today in that one-third of the total counts was
allotted to escutcheon, a character now omitted entirely from the present score card. The
sclae of points has undergone numerous revisions, usually with increased emphasis being
placed on mammary system at each revision.
Obviously, the early scale of points was adopted with little definite knowledge as
to the relationship that might exist between the characteristics emphasized and
producing capacity. However, it was recognized then, as today, that the
distinguishing characteristics between various breeds of livestock are principally
conformation and color. It is true that all breeds of farm animals possess other
characteristics such as rapidity of growth, fattening ability, fecundity, disposition,
milk yield and butter-fat percentage in the case of dairy cattle, and gait in the case of
horses. Yet, without differences in conformation and color, it would be difficult indeed
to distinguish one breed of live-stock from another of the same species. If the different
breeds of live-stock are to be maintained and perpetuated, it is necessary that a standard
of type or conformation be adopted. Such standars may be flexible, changing from time to
time with market demands but these standards of conformation are essential and the value
of such sandards is universally recognized in live-stock circles.
Statistical studies, dealing with type classification records, indicate that there
is a slight relationship between what is accepted as desirable conformation and
production. It is true that the correlation is not as high as might be desired but the
results indicate that desirable type and high production are not incompatible. They are
certainly not inimical to each other and can readily be combined in the same individual.
Furthermore, examination of Herd Test records reveals the fact that for some reason cows
scoring high in type are retained in the herd longer than animals of mediocre
The Herd Classification program, based entirely on conformation, was established in
1932. After a slow beginning, it has increased rapidly in popularity and in the first
eight years after the adoption of the program more than eleven thousand animals have been
scored and given conformation ratings by judges appointed by the American Jersey Cattle
Club. The Club however, has repeatedly emphasized that classification for type must never
displace production testing. While certain physical characteristics undoubtedly have an
economic importance and value, production is the only real justification for the existence
of a dairy cow.
The first production records were privately made by breeders desirous of seeing how
much they could churn from their Jersey cows in a week or in a given period of time.
Jersey breeders were the pioneers in production testing i America. In an Essay, written by
Colonel George E. Waring J., and published by the Club in 1871, mention is made of the
first butter test made on a Jersey cow. This test was made in February, 1853, by a Mr.
Thomas Motley in Massachusetts. He kept a butter record on his cow, Flora, later
registered and given number 113. At three years of age, eight months after her second
calving, she is credited with producing 14.5 pounds of butter in seven days. Thus was
production testing inaugurated in America. Few tests were made during the next quarter of
a century. Linsley, in his "Jersey Cattle in America", published in 1885, states
"Of the tests as dated, there were in 1853, 2; in 1867, 1; in 1872, 2; in 1873, 1; in
1874, 4; in 1875, 5; in 1876, 6; in 1877, 5; in 1878, 8; in 1879, 4; in 1880, 14; in 1881,
35; in 1882, 79; in 1883, 185; in 1884, 190; in 1885, about 175".
Many of these early test records were collected by major Campbell Brown, of
Spring Hill, Tennessee, and a list of these butter records was published by him in
the Country Gentleman i 1882. These records were accepted and published on the statment of
the owners. Some of these privately conducted churn tests resulted in quite high butter
yields and naturally, their accuracy was doubted by a few Jersey breeders and by a larger
number of breeders of other breeds. The proper authentication of production records became
increasingly necessary and in 1882 he first Jersey, and probably the first registered cow
of any breed, was supervised under the auspices of a national breed association. The
American Jersey Cattle Club. Both private and authenticated tests were made in increasing
numbers and contributed much to the growth and spread of the Jersey cow throughout
America. Over five thousand of these butter-test reports are still filed in the vaults of
the Club. Their contribution to the improvement of the breed was probably not large but
they did demonstrate the merits of the Jersey as a "butter cow". While Jersey
breeders were busy making churn tests, the Babcock test was invented, developed and
adopted by several of the other associations. The reputation of the Jersey breed had been
built on the churn test for butter and it was not until 1903 that the register of Merit,
based on the Babcock test, was officially adopted. This system has been in continuous
operation since then and to January 1, 1941, over 63.000 records had been accepted and
published by the Club.
The Register of Merit as a system of testing can be both criticized and praised. In
criticism, it may be said, first, that the proportion of animals tested to the number
registered has always been too small to accomplish very much in the improvement of the
industry. Then, in common with the official testing systems of all the breeds, the
important weakness of the system, from a breed improvement standpoint, is that it permits
the testing of selected animals and, at first, permitted publishing only records that
exceeded certain production requirements. (This latter fault no longer exists for all
records are now published). On the other hand, such improvement as has been made in the
Jersey breed during the present century has been based largely on records furnished by the
Register of Merit. The Register of Merit has been the means of locating and developing the
strains within the breed which have excelled in production. Also, while the system permits
the testing of selected animals, fortunately, some breeders have followed a practice of
securing records on all of their cattle.
The Herd Improvement Registry, commonly called the "Herd Test", was
established in 1928 and during recent years has become the most favored system of
testing by Jersey breeders. From a breed improvement standpoint, the Herd Test should
accomplish much for all cows in the herd must be included. The work is continuous from
year to year and the individual records are published as lactation records. Three times as
many Jersey bulls were proved through the Herd Test in 1940 as through the Register of
Merit. During the next generation, the Herd Test should help materially in improving the
level of production of the Jersey cow in America.
In regard to the ultimate effect on the breed, some of the most important breed
improvement programs have been adopted during the past decade. The first of these is the
sire program, consisting of the publication of lists of Tested Sires based on the
average production of ten or more daughters. In the first volume of Tested Sires,
published in 1932, the following quotation, taken from the introduction, is significant.-
"...The improvement of any breed of dairy cattle cannot be accomplished by only
publishing a portion of the facts. The whole truth about every bull and every cow must be
known. It is just as important to know how many poor producing daughters a bull has, as it
is to know how many of his progeny have qualified for Gold Medals".
The Tested Sire program and a similar program for Tested Dames (three tested
progeny) have stimulated more production testing and have located the really prepotent
bulls of the breed in transmitting production. To January 1, 1941, a total of 1300 Jersey
bulls had qualified as "Tested Sires", each having ten or more tested daughters.
Of this number there are just sixty-three whose daughters`records, when computed to a
mature yearly basis, average over seven hundred pounds of butter-fat. These represent the
top bulls of the breed in transmitting production, bulls which should be given the maximum
opportunity to influence the breed and to raise the level of production. At the other
extreme, there are ninety bulls of the "Tested Sires" whose daughters`records
average less than 450 pounds of fat, when converted to a mature yearly basis. This figure
may appear fairly high but if these records are standardized to a 305-day, twice a
day milking, basis they average only 302 pounds of fat. These are a few of the bulls which
continually ruin herds and which drag down the level of the breed. The "Tested
Sire" program helps to locate and evaluate these bulls, whether good or poor.
Two other important programs recently adopted are he Super Registration or Star Bull
program and the program of Selective Registration. The first program is especially
important because of the scarcity of good proved bulls and because of the fact that for
many years the majority of the breeders will have to depend on the use of untried young
bulls. A recent survej shows that 47 per cent. of the bulls being used today, in
registered Jersey herds, are under three years of age; 62 per cent are under four years of
age, and 74 per cent are under five years of age. Only 7 per cent, of the bulls being used
as herd sires in registered Jersey herds are eight years of age or older.
Many methods have been used in the past in selecting young herd sires with a
resulting high percentage of failures. The Star Bull awards sum up the accomplishments of
the immediate ancestry of a young bull and furnish a reliable measuring stick or standard
for evaluating their potential transmitting ability. There is a good evidence available
that a high percentage of the bulls, with enough proved production in their immediate
pedigrees to qualify for Star award, will prove out satisfactory. The Selective
Registration program marks a new milestone in the dairy industri in AMerica. Foreign dairy
countries have employede Selective Registration for years but until the new program of the
AMerican Jersey Cattle Club became effective, January 1, 1942, the only requirement for
registration in any association, except for color, had been registered parentage.
Selective Registration should add value and confidence to Registration Certificates.
It is important to observe that approximately fifty per cent. of the foregoing list of
ninety poor transmitting bulls would not have been eligible for registration had the
Selective Registration program been in operation when they were registered.
The Jersey breed today and the position which the breed occupies on the farms of
AMerica are largely the result of these programs, plus the promotional activities of the
American Jersey Cattle Club. The Destiny of any breed of live-stock is affected by the
policies of the national organization, whether the breed be dairy cattle, draft
horses or swine. It is true that a breed organization cannot necessarily control the
matings in any herd or the feeding and mangement practices but the breed organization can
and does formulate and adopt the programs which they believe are to the best interest of
the breed concerned and offers these programs to its breeders to use in improving their
own individual herds.
With the introduction of the Jersey cow to America, breeders soon began to develop,
promote and advertise certain families, strains or socalled blood lines within the breed.
A Jersey family may be defined as a strain of cattle resulting from the constructive
efforts of one or more breeders to concentrate and perpetuate through in-breeding and line
breeding, the blood of one or more animals possessing outstanding qualities, and by these
means to maintain and reproduce the desirable characteristiscs of a particular ancestor or
a number of ancestors. From time to time, certain breeders have bred, or purchased some
particular animal or group of animals on which they have concentrated their efforts in the
development of their herds and in so doing have established a socalled family or strain
within the breed.
To even mention all of the Jersey families or to go into detail regarding any
particular family or strain, is not possible in this chapter. During the latter part of
the nineteenth century, when the Jersey breed rose so rapidly in popularity in the
United States, the development of different families or strains gained considerable
impetus. Jersey families, however, like the seasons, come and go and certain families or
strains remain in favor only so long as breeders maintain public interest in the family or
strain through production testing, advertising and perhaps showing on the fair circuit. It
is also impossible in this chapter to describe or even mention the thousands of well
known, famous animals of the breed but brief mention will be made of just a few whose
contribution has been universally recognized as outstanding. If present day pedigrees are
traced back eight or ten generations, the names of only a relatively few foundation
animals will be found to occur frequently. Several years ago, extended pedigrees were
compiled on two groups of Jersey bulls, one group proved for high production and the other
for transmitting low production. An analysis of the ancestry showed that the bull,
Imported Golden Fern`s Lad 65300, and the cow, Oxford Lass P.S. 3582, occurred most
frequently in both groups of pedigrees and there is probably not a registered living today
that does not trace many times to the Island cow, Sultane P.S. 7, born in 1869, and now
generally known as the mother of the breed.
Mention should be made of one early day family, known as the St. Lamberts,
because of the influence of this family on the breed, especially in the latter decades of
the nineteenth century. Its origin was unique. In 1868 Mr. Harrison Stephens, Montreal,
Canada made an importation of fifteen cows and bulls. Shortly after, two more cows and
another bull were purchased and the herd taken to a farm near the village of St. Lambert,
in the Province of Quebec. These twenty animals constituted the original St. Lambert herd.
The strain differs in that it descended from a herd rather than from an individual. Any
animal descended from any of these original animals was considered as a St. Lambert to a
degree, and any animal having no outcross from the blood of the members of the original
herd was called a pure St. Lambert. Up to thirty years ago, the St. Lambert strain was
wide spread and very popular. Most of the higher churn test butter records were made by
St. Lambert Jerseys and the Jersey herds winning the dairy contests at the Columbian
Exposition in 1893, and the St. Louis World`s Fair Demonstration in 1924, were composed of
many animals from this family. Today, the family has largely disappeared, although St.
Lambert blood does occur in many herds. In fact, the present National Champion Jersey for
butter-fat yield, Stockwell`s April Pogis of H.P. 694544, with a yearly record of 1218.48
pounds of butterfat, was sired by a bull of nearly pure St. Lambert inheritance.
Another family which has contributed much to the breed and which deserves mention is
the strain called the SophieTormentors. As with the St. Lamberts, this family was famous
for high production. Hood Farm at Lowell, Massachusetts, was instrumental in developing
the family, and animals of this strain undoubtedly hold more records for high yearly
production and for lifetime production than do cattle of any other family. The most noted
bull of the strain, Pogis 99th of Hood Farm 94502 has 119 officially tested daughters.
Twenty-two of his daughters have actual records of over eight hundred pounds of butterfat,
more than can be credited to any other bull of the breed. Forty-two daughters have records
over seven hundred pounds, and fifty-nine or nearly half of all his tested daughters
have actual records of over six hundred pounds of fat. His dam, Sophie 19th of Hood Farm
189748, was equally noted; at one time holding the yearly record for the breed with
a yield of 999.1 pounds of fat and later holding the life-time record with a yield of 7544
pounds of fat in eleven successive lactations. Her main contribution, however, lay in the
fact that she was the dam of four proved sons, all noted for transmitting high
production. The contribution of the Hood Farm herd and this strain to the income of Jersey
breeders in America, through increased production, is enormous and impossible to estimate.
What happened later has been an oft repeated occurrence in the breeding of dairy cattle in
America. On the death of the owner, Mr. C.I. Hood, the herd was dispersed.
Two strains on the west coast, the St. Mawes and the Golden Glows, also contributed
much to the producing capacity of the breed and helped a great deal in advertising the
Jersey cow as a high producing dairy animal. Both of these strains carried some St.
Lambert blood. Their influence is seen when it is realized that fourteen of the forty-two
Jersey records over onethousand pounds of butter-fat have been made in two western coast
states, where these families were popular. For a time, Vive La France 319616, an
Oregon Jersey of the Golden Glow strain, was considered the most famous cow of the breed
and was the first Jersey cow to complete two records of over one thousand pounds of fat
and a total yield 5331 pounds, in six successive lactations.
Obviously, there are many other noted and popular families and strains, some famous
mainly for type or conformation, others for production, and still others for a combination
of the two characteristics. Space prohibits all bt a listing of some of these by name. In
this brief list may be mentioned the Owl-Interests, Raleighs, Nobles, Majestys, Designs,
Sybils, Volunteers, Day Dreams, Coronations and Blondes.
The Jersey cow has now spread over the entire country. In several northern States,
the Jersey is the most popular dairy breed, and throughout the South the Jersey takes
precedence over all other dairy breeds. Considerably over one and onehalf million Jerseys
have been officially registered with the American Jersey Cattle Club. While the
distribtion of the breed is wide, the four leading States in the number of registrations
are Texas, Ohio, New York and Tennessee. Importations have continued regularly from the
Island during the past century until the seizure of the Island by Germany in 1940.
However, during recent years, importations have declined. The peak in the number of cattle
imported was reached in the first decade of the present century.
The general physical characteristics of the Jersey cow are too well known to need
description. Many attributes have been claimed for the breed, some perhaps based partly on
assumption. However, early maturity, adaptability, economy of butter-fat production and
quality of milk are recognized characteristics of the breed today. The average butterfat
test of Jersey milk, based on over sixty thousand official production records, has been
found to be 5.36 per cent. While there is great variation in the producing ability of
registered Jerseys, the daughters of Jersey bulls, proved in Dairy Herd Improvement
Associations throughout the country, average higher in butter-fat production than do the
daughters of the proved bulls of any other dairy breed.
Much remains to be done to continue to raise the level of the production of the
breed. Breeders of registered Jerseys are the heirs of a great heritage in the breed with
which they work, yet they also have a distinct responsibility to the Jersey cow and to the
dairy insustry. American breeders can, by continuede testing of all animals, rigid
culling, careful selection and using good proved sires, make the registered Jersey cow of
tomorrow a really superior dairy animal. This is not only a responsibility and a challenge
but such improvement must be made in all of the registered dairy breeds, if they are to
survive in the competition for the economic production of human food.