The Jersey Cow and its Island Home. [A Paper presented at the Conference of The World Jersey Cattle Bureau in New Zealand, February, 1965 by The Earl of Jersey, Chairman, World Jersey Cattle Bureau, T. Le. Q. Blampied, F.R.C.V.S., Veterinary Officer to the States of Jersey 1938-1961. Research Worker Miss Elisabeth Oliver.
Edited and Revised by Lord Jersey with the co-operation of Professor Albert Messervy, Emeritus Professor of Animal Surgery, University of Bristol, and Mr. Derrick Frigot, Secretary of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau. The revisions are printed in italics.
Published by the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Hortilcultural Society, Springfield, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands.
1. Our title is "The Jersey Cow and its Island Home", in other words,
the animal and the environment that has made it what it is. For all living species of
animals and plans 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
2. In the numerous other Countries into which the Breed has been imported, that same process of the development will have continued and may have had the effect of making changes in the local type so that such sub-populations can thrive better in their own particular environment. Any changes and the reasons for them must be studied by comparison with true original type from which all overseas stock have sprung, the Breed in its Island home.
3. Until about 8.500 years ago though, Jersey was not an Island at all, bur merely a group of hills on the mainland of France with forest lying between it and the sea to the West. The fossilised roots of the trees that made up that forest can still be seen when a freak storm washes away their usual protective covering of sand.
4. In prehistoric times, say a hundred thousand years ago, Neanderthal Man used to live in caves in those hills, "La Cotte" in St. Brelade`s Bay and "La Cotte à la Chèvre" at L'Etacq for example, and of the animals that were his contemporaries, that he preyed upon or that preyed upon him, the only large one whose descendants still inhabit the island, is the Aurochs, Bos Primigenus, whose modern representative is the Jersey Cow.
5. Primitive Neanderthal man was replaced in Europe about 35.000 years ago by
Homo Spaiens, who was far more advance and had already developed the bow and arrow. He was
responsible for those remarkable wall paintings in the Caves at Lascaux and Les Eysées in
the Dordogne, some 350 miles to the South-East from Jersey. It is obvious from these that
he had a special interest in the Aurochs for a great many of them are of Bulls and Cows.
He may even have practised some Cult of worship of the Bull.
6. The great break-through towards civilisation when man discovered how to cultivate wheat and grains, 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 stonishingly 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.
7. Strangely enough, the bovidæ that those primitive men domesticated were the
large and fierce Aurochs. It stood six feet at the shoulder, had a huge spread of horn and
was notorously savage. It was commonly brown with a darker stripe along the back, but if
the cave paintings represent the general run of the breed it was extremely variable in
colour. It is now extinct but the last specimens survived until about 1630 in the forest
8. Soon as smaller variant of the Aurochs appeared. This apparently is one of the usual effects of domestication. It was smaller in size, and with shorter horns, though whether this was due to a starvation diet, unhelathy conditions, or to selective breeding, or some other respect of domestication, we do not know. Anyhow, this small type, on account of the formation of its skull is known as Bos Longifrons (sometimes as a Bos Brachycerous). All our European Domestic Breeds of Cattle are thought to be derived form the Aurochs, It is interesting to us to note that the late Professor Zeuner in his authoritiative book "A History of Domesticated Animals" says that the Jersey breed, together with the Alpine and the Shorthorn are typical Longifrons, whereas the Scottish Highland, the Hungarian Steppe Cattle, the Longhorn Cattle of the Romagna in Italy and the SPanish Fighting Cattle are pure Primigenus, all other breeds being a mixture of the two types; and certainly so long as wild cattle roarned the forests and domestic cattle were kept in clearings in those forests, there must obviously have been a good deal of interbreeding.
9. It is perhaps woth mentioning that according to papyrus records of about 2500 B.C. the Ancient Egyptians, who tried to domesticate practically every kind of animals they could find, even giraffes, used to catch and domesticate the wild cattle even though they had quite distinct breeds of domestic types. And incidentally, if anyone thinks that the idea of putting coasts on cattle and tethering them by head chains and training horn is a purely local and modern custom in Jersey, they can see in an Egyptian tomb of about 3000 B.C., a wall painting of exactly that scene.
10. 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 sometimes in its development and passage to the West, the ancestors of the Jersey Breed with it 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 hot, semi-tropical climate, so it is not unreasonable to assume that these ancestors came from the Middle East probably via North Africa up through Spain and France. There are now Jersey type cows in Egypt and Morocco. There are in the Sahara the Tassili Frescoes of a date prior to 2000 B.C. showing both Bos Africanus and Bos Longifrons. But possibly, perhaps even probably, the people who brought Bos Longifrons from North Africa to Jersey were the Iberians, a small, dark haired, long headed race who had been squeezed out of North Africa, had wandered across Spain and France up to Normandy and Brittany and finding Jersey uninhabited settled there about 2000 B.B.
(From C-14 dates in Brittany it is thought that the earliest Neolithic people were living in this part of Europe by about 3.500 B.C. with full flowering of the period around 3.000 B.C.)
11. We should not of course completely rule out of possiblity of Parallel Development. That is to say that the Bos Longifrons type developed from thte domesticated Bos Primigenus in Western Europe as well, but independently from, its development in the Middle East and not necessarily of course at the same moment of time.
12. Nor can we tell whether or not there was a nucleus of cattle on the island
when the sea cut it off from the Mainland of it all were brought in later. We do know of
course that cattle were still being brought in up in to the middle and end of the 18th
14. It is a well-established fact that these monks imported the cattle they knew the best, the useful little "Froment de Leon" they breed common to the district round the town of St. Pol de Leon, in Brittany to the South. Some few years after this, grants of land were made to another colony of monks from Cherbourg, on the Cotentin promontory of France - a promontory which is in sight of Guernsey on a moderately fine day to the North and East.
15. That these monks also brought over cattle is beyond disputs, as there are records existing of their importation in barges from the village of Diellette. It is also beyond doubt that the breed they imported was the fine, large Norman brindle of the rich butter district of Isigny, from which district the breed takes its name. These isigny cows are heavy producers of a high quality and fine-flavoured milk of a rich primrose colour, while the exterior skin and interior fat carry to a large extent that yellow pigment so characteristic in the Guernsey breed. This, then, is the "Guernsey", a blend of two dissimilar Franch breeds. End of quote.
16. There could be several reasons why the Sovereign Lord of the island might have found it necessary to send monks or cattle to Jersey at the same time. If he did so, however, there is no record of it.
17. If the Guernsey Breed is the result of the importations into the Island by those militant French Monks the Jersey Breed has been developed by the industry and skill of the Jersey Farmer, and is a part of his History. It would seem appropriate, therefore, to give a brief outline of that History.
18. The Iberian settlers referred to baove were men of the New Stone Age, and in addition to the Bow and Arrow, they imported flint and made flint tools, they had a rough kind of pottery and may have taken steps towards writing. They were responsible for the Dolmens, the prehistoric burial places of which there are many in Jersey, with the Hougue Bie being the most outstanding. Finally about 700 B.C., they were over-run and enslaved by the Gauls, fair haired, blue-eyed warriors from Central Europe who invaded Southern France, and moved up into Normandy and Brittany.
19. About 800 years later, 486 A.D., the Franks from the Forests of Germany crossed the Rhine and defeated the Romans and in their turn occupied Jersey. Incidenttaly, there is no trace of Roman occupation in the Island, though Roman Coins have been found so they obviously governed it is part of Gaul. In this latter Frankish invasion, Armorica- that part of France to the SOuth of Jersey which we now call the Brittany peninsula - was practically depopulated, and as a result Christian Celts from Devon and Cornwall, tehmselves being driven from their homelands by the Anglo-Saxon invasions, crossed the Channel and settled there. Hence the name, Brittany-Little Britain- and the reason for the district Breton dialect that can still be understood in Wales. One of their leaders was a Bishop, S. Samson, and about 525 A.D. some of his Christian Britons occupied part of Jersey and brought Christianity to the Island. So much for the early history of the islanders, Iberians, Goths, Franks and Celts. Next we come to the Vikings or Norsemen.
20. In the seventh and eight centuries A.D., the people of Denmark and Norway expanding. They were a very warlike, pagan race and for many years had been raiding Scotland, Ireland, Greenland and for a short time even had a settlement in North America. There were Viking Kings of England such as Canute, who ordered the tide to stop coming in. From about 800 A.D., they moved South and began raiding up the Seine, and finally in 912 A.D., settled and occupied Rouen, only 85 miles from Paris. Charles the Simple, King of France finding he could not drive them out, made the best of a bad job, and in return for Rollo, the Viking leader, agreeing to become his feudal vassal, made him a Count and Overlord of Normandy. When he accepted the Christian faith Charles gave him his daughter Gisele in marriage. Rollo`s son William Longsword, added the Cotentin peninsula, and the Channel Islands to his domains.
21. The Viking Pirates turned out to be remarkably enlightened rulers of their
new lands, and imposed a constitution, which in the Channel Islands remains to the present
day little changed in the fundamentals. That same Rollo, Count of Normandy, is a direct
ancestor of our present Elizabeth, Queen of England. So you see that Jersey and the other
Channed Islands became part of her family heritage more than 150 years before Rollo`s
great great grandson, the famous William the Conqueror, took the Crown of England in 1066.
Today Jersey is still loyal to the Duke of Normandy, who is also Queen of England, and the
loyal toast at Dinner is "To the Queen, our Duke".
23. In those early days especially, of course, Jersey was much influenced by France which is only 13 miles away, easily visible most days of the year, while England lies 100 miles away to the North across some very rough and treacheous waters. It lay in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Coutances. Caen University was the usual place of study. French was the common laguage of all classes as it still is among the farmers in its local Jersiaise dialect. Norman French was the official lauguage up until the present decade. The Official Currency used until 1835 was that of France, not of England. Many of our legal documents even now are in French.
24. However, the Island was and still is self-governing under the "King in Council" and not under the British elected Parliament to which Jersey does not send a representative.The Crown appoints the Lieutenant Governor who is the Queen`s personal representative, the Bailiff, the Deputy Bailiff, the Attorney-General, and the Solicitor-General, and the Dean ans some of the Rectors, but in all others matters the Island is selv governing, with its own Royal Court of Law, and the States, the Island Parliament. In 1341 King Edward III granted the Island the most important of all its Charters, stating "We concede for ourselves and our heirs, that they hold and retain all privileges, liberties, immunities and customs granted by our forbears or of other legal competency, and that they enjoy them freely without molestation by ourselves, our heirs, or officers". And every King of England has renewed this Charter down to the present day.
(Since this paper was first written, England has joined the European Econimic
Community (The Common Market) and I am grateful to Senator Ralph Vibert for the following
summary of the Islands`s position
For administrative purposes the Island is divided into twelve parishes (the same as the Church of England Parishes): St. Helier, St. Lawrence, St. Brelade, St. Peter, St. Quen, St. Mary, St. John, Trinity, St. Martin, Grouville, St. Clement, and St. Saviour. Each Parish incidentally , has a strip of coastline with a path, known as a perquage, running from the Church down to the sea. Malefactors who ind old days had sought sanctuary at the altar steps in the Church could escape to a waiting boat and make their way to the Continent. Each Parish elects a Connêtable, Centenier (who had to supervise 100 houses) and the Connêtables'Officers, who, unpaid, are proud to deal with a great amount of day to day business of the parish including minor Police work.
This tradition of Honorary Service to the Community is fiercely upheld by all true Jerseymen.
Parish Agricultural Societies follow the Church of England Parishes. The
Establishment of the Parish system goes back to Saxon and pre-Christian times when
landlords were held to be responsible for the Spiritual welfare of their subjects, but was
formalised under Pope Vitalian 1st in the latter half of the seventh Century. It therefor
preceded by Centuries the institution of the system of Government under the Seigneurs, the
Connêtables etc. which were based on it.
25. A word about religion on the Island. ALthough politically the Islands were independent under the King of England from 1204, for religious matters they remained in the Bishopric of Coutances until nearly 300 years later. Then Henry VIII persuaded Pope ALexander Borgia to transfer them to the See of Salisbury, and afterwards Winchester in 1496 but the transfer was only enforced in practice from 1569.
The Act of Uniformity which imposed the Church of England and Cranmer`s English Translation of the Book of Common Prayer on the Rectors of the Island Parished were passed by the States in 1549, but already the majority of the Island and the Churches had accepted the Reformation from France, and had been converted to the Calvinist System. Martin Luther had started the Reformation to as Religious movement in Saxony in 1517 and it had spread rapidly across France to Jersey. In England Henry VIII had adopted his own version for financial and quite other personal and worldly reasons.
Later in 1787 John Wesley spent 10 days in the Island. Many Protestant Refugees fled from France and Roman Catholic persecution especially after the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572 and again at the time of the Revolution at the end of the 18th Century. As a result today the population is divided approximately into 30% Church of England, 30% Roman Chatolic, 30% Free Church and 10% other religions.
26. In spite of, or perhaps because of, a too close association with France the people remained loyal to their Duke, sturdy in their independence, and proud in their association with England. In the 17th Century when Cromwell and his Puritans were in power in England, Charles II during his exile came and visited the Island and while he was her gave a Charter to Sir Philip de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Quen's, which subsequently resultet in the founding of New Jersey in AMerica just 300 years ago with Colonists from Jersey Island. There is no record, however, that they took any cattle with them.
27. Naturally, whenever there was trouble between France and England, and that was almost the whole time up to Waterloo in 1815, the people of Jersey suffered for the French tried to conquer the island by force of arms (and at one time occupied most of it). So much so indeed that Edward IV of England and Louis XI of France in 1483 signed a treaty granting the Island a permanent Privilege of Neutrality in the event of FrancoBritish war and this was confirmed by a Papal Bull. It lapsed however under William of Orange about 200 years later. Naturally also because of its situation Jersey was always a great centre for Privateers preying on shipping in the Channel and smugglers, exchanging manufactured goods from England for French wines and brandies. The people themselves though, suffered severely in the reprisals that took place, and in raids from the Barbary Pirates, who carried off their victims to sell as slaves in Algiers. The last time the French landed was in 1781, at Grouville and La Rocque and fought their way to the Royal Square, but were eventually repulsed in an episode which is memorable in local History.
28. During the centuries though the true wealth of the people depended on farming and fishing, and their exports to England and elsewhere. Pickled eels, oysters, apples for cider, cod-fish from Newfoundland, and knitted garments made by the wives and families of the sailors away from home, and more recently tomatoes, new potatoes, broccoli and flowers. All these have at times pleayed their part. But the export for which the Island has been renowned all over the World is of course the Jersey Cow.
Wool had to be imported into the Island for knitting industry, which became so popular that a law passed forbidding knitting at certain seasons; the planting or the lifting of potatoes for example. The natural oyster beds which are still shown on Charts of the Bay of St. Malo were either dredged out or destroyed by parasites about 1910. However, oysters and mussels are now being cultivated and can be seen near Seymour Tower at La Rocque on the South East of the Island.
29. When the export of cattle really began we do not know. Certainly it was already flourishing by the end of the 18th Century and a source of considerable profit to the island, but we have no records of exactly what had been taking place in the preceding centuries to bring about the pre-emince of the Jersey Cow.
30. However, here are two suggestions we would put forward for consideration, but
they are pure surmise.
31. Secondly, a great proportion of the Island Herd has to be culled each year, either by export, or by sending them to the abattoir, and the same undoubtedly applied in the olden days. The natural tendency would be for the farmer to get rid of his worst animals and the fact that he and his family live always so very closely and intimately with his cattle does I think enable him to judge very well which animals he should dispose of and which are really the best and should be kept. This also would improve the average standard of cattle on the Island.
32. The first law forbidding the importation of live cattle into the Island was passed in 1763, and forbade also the importation of sheep, pigs and all sorts of other things. This is the year of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Seven Years War, one result of which was that Canada became English. The French economy was in a very bad way and the purpose of the law was doubtless to protect the Jersey farmer from the dumping of French produce, rather than to improve his cows.
33. In 1789 it was decided to strengthen the law, especially in so far as it
applied to the importation of cattle from France. The preamble of this law reads as
Then came a series of regulations and prohibitions and penalties for breaking them.
34. One can make from this certain logical deductions.
35. So we see that the Jersey was already by that date a good cow by English and by French standards, and was not in appearance unlike the French breed from just across the water.
36. Another law was passed in 1827 [1826?], again strengthening those of 1763 and 1789. This law is interesting chiefly I think because in the preamble for the first time it uses the word "Breed" and refers to "The original breed of Island Cattle". In England of course during the 18th and early 19th century a great deal of work was being done to improve the Local Types of Sheep and Cattle, but the conception of Breeds of Domestic Cattle, in the sense that we now use the word, was comparatively new. The degree that one is really entitled to look upon the various domestic types as different breeds or species when all have one common wild ancestor in Bos Primigenus and all are cross fertile is an argument I do not want to enter into here. However, in spite of this series of Laws there is evidence that Cattle were occasionally brought into the Island; may be a Jersey bred animal sent to a show in England came back home. A Frenchman buying a farm or coming to live in the Island quiettly importing his own herd or more romantically a Guernsey or Serquaise girl marrying a Jersey boy bringing with her a calf given by her father as a wedding present to remind her of home. Pink noses, a tell-tale evidence of Guernsey blood, still sometimes appears in Jersey Cows.
Some cattle of other breeds were imported by the Germans during the Second World War, but all these were quickly destroyed.
37. The next important date in the History of Agriculture on the Island is 1833. In August of that year the LieutenantGovernor, General Thornton, gathered together a group of Farmers and Breeders and formed the Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society. It received the honour of Royal Patronage from King William IV in December 33. The letter granting the honour was actually dated December 1833. It is probable that there were Agricultural Societies in the Island before 1833 - but no formal records remain of their existence.
38. In 1836 the first show was held, and in preparation for this a Scale of points was prepared which though modified from time to time, is the basis on which our modern points system is founded.
39. The most important event in the whole history of the Island Breed must undoubtedly be the establishment of the Herd Book in March, 1866, and surely a hundred years ago today (the original paper was presented in 1965) preparations for its launching must have been very much in the minds of its sponsors. On April 4th, 1866, the first examination of Cattle was held to select Foundation Stock for entry into the Herd Book. These animals were obviously without pedigree, or in fact any qualifications for entry, other than their conformation. They were true Foundation-Stock. Subsequently we find animals with one parent in the Book, the other not being registered. And then full Pedigree stock with both parents in the Book. In the early days extra points were given at Shows to animals in the Herd Book as an inducement to breeders to register.
40. The honour of being the very first entry goes to a grey and white bull named "Dandy" owned by James Godfrey of St. Martin's. The first cow was light brown and white, "Daisy" owned by P. Paisnel of St. Clement's who also registered a black and white cow and a fawn cow at the same time. ALtogether up to August 1st, 1883, 448 Bulls passed the requirements of the examiners and were entered as Foundation Stock in the Herd Book, then the entries for Bulls closed.Since that date no more Foundation Stock Bulls have ever been qualified. During the same period 6.207 Foundation Stock heifers and cows were entered but the register for Foundation Stock Females has never been closed, and in fact a few, eight in 1963, are usually registered each year. The Pedigree Stock Females have now got up to No. 73380 registered in September 1964.
(There have been two major changes in the procedure of registering cattle in Jersey in
recent years. Until 1971, the system of registering calves in the Jersey Herd Book under a
folio number, then, following the first calving of the heifer, she was
"Qualified" at a Herd Book examination, was the practice since 1866) (explained
in paragraph 66)
41. Thus, the relatively few bulls and cows registered in Jersey are the ancestors of the millions of pedigree Jersey cattle that exist today all over the world.
42. To finish this historical survey and before passing on to the statistical
section of this paper, I must add a word on the Island during the German Occupation of the
last War. On June 22nd, 1940, France surrendered to the Nazis, who had by then occupied
the coast as far south as St. Malo. On July 1st the Nazis occupied Jersey, for the people
had been told by the Government in London that it would be useless to resist.
"D" Day when the Allied Armies landed in France was four years later -June 6th,
1944, and the German Troops surrendered 11 months after that, May 8th, 1945. But the Nazi
garrison in Jersey had held on and the Liberation of Jersey did not take place until May
9th, 1945. Throughout the whole of that time the Government of Jersey continued under the
States and Bailiff, subject to the orders of the Nazi Occupying Authorities. Incidentally
the civilian population during the Occupation was about 40.000.
As a result it was decided that only a limited number of heifers be reared, approximately half the peace-time total, and only about two or three bull calves a month. The arrangements for this were superwised by the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
44. At the beginning of the Occupation beef cattle from France were obtainable, but in 1943 the Nazis ordered that the Island must rely on its own resources, and in the last six months of the Occupation about 40 head a week were being slaughtered, a toll that, had it continued, could seriously have affected the well-being of the Island herd. The Nazis did not like the local meat and when they could, imported beef cattle from Germany and France, as carcasses and on the hoof. The few of these that remained alive at the Liberation were slaughtered within a day or two. Foot and Mouth was brought in on two occasions but fortunately was soon eradicated. New Forest disease also appeared during the Occupation. The Warble Fly normally unknown on the Island also got in, but this too soon disappeared. The effect of the above culling was very advantageous to improving the cattle in the Island Herd.
45. Since 1763 therefore the Island Herd has been almost entirely a self contained Herd, and there are two questions constantly being asked. "Are not the Cattle very inbred?" and "As the Island is always exporting the best cattle, how does it retain the high standard it does?"
46. The answer to the first question is I think that there are and have been for
several hundred years, about ten or twelve thousand head of cattle on the Island, made up
as to five thousand cows, five thousand followers and about two hundred bulls, so except
where a breeder deliberately wants to inbreed there is no reason for close inbreeding.
47. The exception I referred to is the Oxford strain of Mr. Eugene Perredes. In that herd from the time of the original Oxford Lad, who was a son of Flying Fox, for twelve generations, consecutively, the herd sire was the result of a half-brother - half-sister mating right down to 1934, and even after that up to the present day the breeding is extremely close, and never outside the descendants of the original pair. The Oxfords are world famous so quite obviously it is a matter of starting off with outstnading animals, and only breeding from the best in each generation.
48. Although there are about 180 to 200 bulls at stud on the Island at any one
time, not all are equally popular. Some young bulls may be sold and exported without
serving a single cow, others are said to serve as many as 500 in a year.
49. I started my investigation into bull`s pedigrees with the 214 bulls qualified in the two years 1954 and 1955. These 214 were the get of only 84 sires, although there were about 200 sires available, in those two years one sire and 15 of his sons qualified, yet from the majority there were none at all. Put briefly, 12 sires left 95 sons, or 7.9 each; 72 left 119 or 1.65 each; and 116 left none - in those two years at any rate. Percentage-wise of the 200 potential sires, 6% fot 44.5% of the next generation of bulls; 36% got 55%; and 58% are unrepresented. This may not be true inbreeding but it does tend to spread the genes of particular blood lines throughout the Island Herd and by eliminating other genes reduces the inherent variability of the breed. As an example mulberries and silver greys have been almost eliminated in the Island.
(To update this paragraph, we haven taken all registrations of bulls from 1974 til 1978 inclusive (5 years). There were 228 bulls registered in the five-year period, and they were get of III sires. One sire had eighteen sons, or 7.9% of the registered bulls; another had ten sons, or 4.4% one had eight sons (3.5%) all other sires having less than eight sons registered. In fact, 67 sires only had one son each during those five years)
50. Of the 84 bulls used as sires, 15 only had qualified in 1949 or earlier, that
is to say, they might have had daughters with milk records.
51.We also took a 10% sample of heifers qualifying in the same two years and much
the same pattern was disclosed as for bulls; 119 bulls were used to get our sample of 244
heifers, but 12 bulls or 6% of the total available got 79 or 32.4% of the heifers in the
sample. As it happens, the most popular sires of bulls were not the most popular sires of
(During the five years (1974-1978) - there were 5.625 heifers registered sired by
296 sires. This made an average of each sire producing only 7.7 registered heifers each
52. As I said before, there were between 14 and 17 generations in the male line,
between bulls qualified in 1954 og 1955 and Flying Fox, qualified in 1899. Between three
and four years per generation.
53. The second question is "When so many of the best are exported, how is
the high standard of animals maintained?" Exports can be divided into show cattle,
and a large number of commercials. We can rule out commercials, they are an average
sample, and their departure does not effect the average level of the animals left behind.
But in the absence of progeny testing, are not those show cattle also an average sample
for breeding purposes, and the average breeding value of the animals left is not altered
by their departure either. Moreover it is usually the unproven younger animals are
shipped. The brood cows and the dams of the prize winners stay on the Island as the
backbone of the Island Herd.
54. There is another point which has been very clearly brought out by the investigation we have been making for this paper. A cow is very much what her breeder makes of her. A calf reared by an expert may make an Island Champion. Allowed to grow up "any-old-how" (and not every Jersey Farmer is a good herdsman) that same calf would not be worth even entering for a Parish show. Genetically though it is the same animal, and will pass on the same genes, the same potential for greatness to its offspring, whichever way it is brought up. That is, I would submit, another reason why there still is an almost inexhaustible fund of good stock remaining on the Island.
55. I would like now some particulars and statisticks of the Island as it is today, and of the Farmers and the Cattle of the Island Herd.
56. Jersey lies in the Bay of St. Malo off the West Coast of France between the Cotentin Peninsula to the North and the Brest or Brittany Peninsula to the South, in Latitude N 49 deg., Longitude W 2 deg. France is some 13 miles off the East, and 30 to the South. Guernsey lies 15 miles away to the NorthWest. This is the same latitude as the Canadian , United States Border, and in the Southern Hemisphere about 150 miles nearer the Pole than the most southerly point in New Zealand, South Cape. The Climate is, however very mild, being influenced by the sea all around, the warm waters of the Gulf Dtream, and by the Portuguese Current coming up from the South.
57. The coldest months in February with an average air temperature of 43.2 deg. and an average minimum 39.4 deg., while the hottest months is August, with an average temperature of 64.3 deg., and an average maximum of 69.8 deg. Grass starts to grow mid-March and carries on to mid-October. Sea temperature varies from 44.4. deg. in February to 63.9 deg. in AUgust. The average rainfall is 32.56 inches, but there is a tendency to spells of hot dry weather with very drying winds in the Summer which with our porous soil can make things difficult. Jersey is one of the sunniest holiday resorts in the British Isles with an average of 1906.85 hours of sunshine per year. The sun shines 42.73% of the daylight hours.
58. The Island above high tide mark, is roughly oblong, about nine miles from
East to West and five from North to South. The area is estimated at 45 square miles, just
under 28.000 English acres. The highest land is about 400 feet above sea-level along the
north coast, sloping down to the south. The north coast is mostly rocky cliffs with a few
small bays. There are some large sandy beaches along the south, each and west coasts,
divided by rocky promontories. A characteristic of the inland scene is the series of steep
sided narrow valleys that cut across the inland from north to south.
59. There is a tremendous rise and fall of the tides, sometimes over 40 feet between high and low water, a difference only exceeded in a few other places in the world. In some places the tide may go out as much as two miles.
60. The rock is granite, much of it a lovely pink colour used for all the old
buildings, churches and farms. The Parish Churches, there are twelve altogether, were
mostly built in the 11th and 12th Centuries, but the farms that one sees today are more
likely to be 150 to 200 years old.
61. The population of the Island is 63.000 and so Jersey is one of the most
densely populated parts of the world, next to Malta and Hong Kong. Naturally all these do
not depend on farming. Many people retire to Jersey to take advantage of the low rates of
taxation, and many Companies of all sorts are registered there for the same reason. There
is therefore a relatively large proportion of proffesional people, Bankers, Lawyers,
Accountants. The biggest employer though is Tourism, for nearly half a million holiday
makers come to Jersey each year. Many foreigners though are involved in these industries.
The true native Jerseyman is at heart a farmer or a grower, interested only in the land.
62. Altogether as at August 1st, 1963, there were 1.605 farms on the Island, many
of them very small, more than half are less than 25 vergees (about 10 acres) and cattle
are kept on 730 farms. The chief cash crops nowadays are early potatoes (both outdoor and
under glass) and flowers, such as narcissi, irises, gladioli and broccoli or winter
63. The cattle population at August 1st, 1963 was 8.912, which makes the average herd 12.2 head. Of these, 178 are not in the Herd Book. These belong to a few farmers who either keep them as House Cows and no ambitions to export, or to the one or two are interested only in commercial milk production.
64. The last year for which I have records, i.e. to October 31st, 1963, was a
very bad year for exports. During the twelve months only 662 head were exported and about
1.500 were slaughtered. This figure includes Bulls and Calves. Since the first flush after
the Occupation exports have run between 800 and 1.000 head a year.
65. Registration of calves takes place at birth and during the year 1963 was 1.612 heifers and 117 bulls. Qualifications, that is for entry into the Herd Book, takes place for heifers on calving, and numbered 868 heifers, with eight Foundation Stock, and 70 Bulls at 10 months of age.
66. A word about the Herd Book system operating on the Island. It is rather
unique and only possible since the area covered is so small. A book is issued by the
Society in respect of each cow and this is held by the Farmer. When the cow calves the
details of the calving and the name chosen for the calf are entered in the book, which is
then taken to the Office and registered. A paper, a provisional certificate, is issued for
the calf, which is also tattooed by an official of the society for identification
purposes. In due course that calf is served and calves. That provisional certificate with
the service and alving data entered on it is returned to the office, and the calved heifer
is exhibited at one of the monthly meetings of the examining judges, who spend a day for
the the purpose of visiting about a dozen selected spots on the Island. The judges
classify the animals brought before them. Commended, Highly Commended, or occasionally
refuse entry to the Herd Book. The heifer, now calved and in milk, is then issued with her
own book and her calf with its Provisional Paper. The Cow`s Milk and Butterfat Production
records and Awards won at the Shows are also entered in her Book. Bulls can be qualified
at ten months of age, and their dams must be shown to the Examining Judges with them. They
may not be used for service until qualified.
67. There are three Island shows each year held at the Society`s Springfield Show Ground in St. Helier. The Spring Show is held about the middle of May, the Summer Show about the middle of AUgust, and the Autumn Show around the middle of October. During the three weeks preceding the Spring and Autumn Shows, all the Parish Agricultural Societies hold their own shows, the larger ones on their own, the smaller ones amalgamate for the purpose.
68. The Amalgamated Parish Shows become very confusing even to some of the exhibitors. FIrst of all, cattle are judged in their classes by each Parish separately, with Parish Champions. Then the winning animals of each Parish class compete against each other in what are called the Sweepstakes series of classes. And finally the Champions and Reserves of the Parishes compete for the Championship of the Show. As there are different Judges for the Parishes, the Sweepstakes and the Championships, and each as often as not has his own idea of the ideal Cow, Parish results may be reversed by the Judges for the Sweepstakes, or Show Champion.
69.The Horticultural Section of the Society runs its own affairs independently of the Herd Book, and organise a number of excellent Flower Shows and Competitions which are held in the Society`s building at Springfield. When possible these coincide with the Cattle Shows.
70. Now to get down to some vital statistics. I will try and avoid a mass of detailed figures and confine myself to comments on the salient points.
71. Our research worker visited 25 farms and weighed a total number of 577 cattle, which represented 6.7% of the Island herd. There were in these 25 herds an average of 23 head per herd, compared with an Island average of 12.2 head per herd. Probably on the whole the cattle seen were somewhat better kept than on the smaller farms.
72. Mathematical averages are rather meaningless when it comes to the weight of cattle, but the birth weight is usually in the region of 45 to 55 lbs. (Mr. Gruchy, the States Vet., told me of an exceptional calf of 103 lb. at birth). At first calving, between 2 and 2½ years old, the weight is between 550 and 750 lbs., and finally seems to stabilise at about 4 years old.
73. I think therefore that it is reasonable to say that the Jersey Cow on the
Island is not fully mature until she is about four years old, or at third calving. The
actual weight finally achieved however varies enormously, and taking cows of four years
old and over, ranges between 600 and 1.150 lbs., but with the great majority between 700
and 975 lbs.
74. It seems that final weight depends very much on the ideas of the breeder and his methods of feeding. The Jersey Farmer prefers the small, fine-boned animal, and by restricing their intake during their first lactations gets them that way. The English breeder on the Island seems to do his calves better with the object perhaps of making large first lactation productions records, and as a result gets a larger animal as an adult. We weighed 303 cows over 4 years old and of these, 39 weighed over 1.000 lbs., but nearly half of them (18 to be exact) were owned by English breeders. On the other hand there were only six English breeders out of a total of 24. SO the English Breeders had nearly three times as many of these big cows in their herds as the Jersey Farmers.
75. Naturally we were interested to see if these big cows gave more milk. We had 83 fourth lactation records, 13 of which were from cows weighing over 1.000 lbs, but of these only 3.23% gave more than 10.000 lbs. of milk. Whereas of the remaining 70 cows (those under 1.000 lb. in weight) 31, or 44%, had yields over 10.000 lbs.
76. All this is, I would suggest, really a practical demonstration of the truth of those nutritional experiments done in New Zealand, in South Africa, Sweden and elsewhere, relating High Plane, Low Plane rearing to subsequent milk production, though I do not remember seeing the results of those experiments tied up with the final body weight.
77. At the same time as we weighed these animals we also measured them for height
and length and girth. The length was taken from the poll - the root of the horns - to the
point of the Tuberiscivi - those bones that project either side of the base of the tail.
We found considerable variation in these measurements in animals of the same weight.
Roughly, though, fully grown cows up to 1.000 lbs. stood between 44.5 and 50.5 inches at
the shoulder. Only when you get to the really big cows, over 1.000 lbs., do you get the
consistently taller animal, none of them were less than 46.5 inches at the shoulder,
though the maximum was the same as the lighter animals, 50.5 inches.
78. We also weighed a few bulls: 1.420 lbs. was the heaviest, a bull born in January, 1957.
79. In the past the production of milk for its own sake has not been particularly
profitable on the Island, and it is actually impossible to calculate a true overall
average yield. However, there were 1782 cows in 225 herds in the Milk and Butterfat
Production Recording Scheme in the 1962 Milk Recording Year. Of these, eight gained Medals
of Merit during the year, having produced over 850 lbs. Butterfat in 361 days. There were
47 cows made Golds Medals and 92 Silver Medal Cows. The requirement for a Gold Medal on
the Island is 610 lbs. of fat in 305 days, or 700 lbs. in 361 days, re-calving within two
months of the end of the lactation. For a Silver Medal the requirement is 410 lbs. in 305
days for a first calver, provided she calves before two years and three months, with
a penalty of 2 lbs. fat for each day by which she calves over that age. Second and third
calvers up to five years of age can also qualify, but of course the penalty makes the fat
requirements much higher as the age at calving increases. For a 361 day lactation the
requirement is 500 lbs. and always the cow must re-calve within the two months limit.
80. Animals giving 2.000 lbs. of fat in not more than four lactations become
"Ton of Gold Cows". There were 56 qualified for this award in 1962, and for the
Double Ton of Gold, that is 4000 lbs. in eight lactations or less, seven qualified and one
Treble Ton of Gold.
81. The Champion Milk Producer of the Island in 1963 was Mr. F. A. Anthoine's
Supreme Vedas Design, a five-year old cow, which gave 19.125 lbs. of milk at 5.10% 975.17
lbs. of fat in 361 dayss. The same animal was also the Champion Butterfat producer of the
Year. Incidentally, this animal weighed 784 lbs.
82. The Pioneer Perpetual Trophy presented by Mr. Lea Marsh for the bull with the
five hightest producing daughters, was won by Mr. H.P. Le Ruez's Louise's Rocket. One
Point is awarded for each 1 lb. fat, and one for each 20 lbs. milk, and the five cows
aggregated 6300.03 points.
83. Calving takes places all the year round. Some breeders will try to get a cow right for the show. Others for the higher price of milk paid during the tourist season in the summer, and a few to give their animals the best chance of getting an award for a good milk and butterfat record. In the twelve months 1.502 heifers calves were registered. April was the highest months with 206 births, whereas the three months October, November, December only average 74. With exports so bad obviously not all heifers born were registered.
84. We now come to a study of Gestation periods and the likeThis investigation is based on the records kept in my own Val Poucin Herd from 1951 to 1961. While one would have liked to work on data from the whole Island, it was impossible to find anything sufficiently comprehensive or reliable. The gestation period is usually given as 281 to 285 days.
85. During those ten years there were 743 services altogether resulting in 323 pregnancies, of which six were twins. Of these 150 were bull calves, 169 heifers. There were 290 normal full term, eight full term but still-born or died within a week, 28 premature or aborted, and three mummufied fæetus. The average gestation period was 278.4 days, with extremes of 248 and 288 days, and 80% of births took place within a week either side of the average, that is to say between 271 and 285 days.
86. We analysed this information further. As between calvings resulting in bull and heifers calves we found no significant difference i the gestation period. As between first calvers, second calvers and so on, there was no significant difference in the average, but that the older the cows get the less likely they are to calve near the due date, the greater the spread about the average. One strange but inexplicable thing though, in cows calving for the sixth time the average gestation period rose to 281.5 days, this however was based only on 16 calvings. It returned to 278 for 7th calvings. No difference was fond between summer and winter calvings.
87. Although the average gestation period remains virtually the same as a cow grows older we wondered if individual cows showed a constant variation, that is to say if one cow was consistently early, and another consistently late. We therefore tabulated all cows with three or more calvings, nine with three calvings, 10 with with four only, 29 with five or more. The result showed no regular pattern.
88. We next turned our attention to the unsuccessful services. These are of course of great importance commercially, for when a cow returns, you keep her for three weeks extre, instead of the cow keeping you. It represents an actual loss of nearly 7% of her productive time in the year We took heifers first, 145 of them. About 60% got into calf at the first service, nearly all after three services, but 12.3 % failed to get into calf at all. One hundred cows were served to get their record calf, 63 stod at first service, 19 at second and 15 failed altogether, and almost identical percentages obtained for 50 cows served to get their third calf. Out of 47 cows served to get their fouth calf 70% stood to first service with only 6.3% not in calf after their third visit to the bull. Frankly it seems to me that these sort of statistics indicate rather how drastic you are about eliminating your shy breeders, and the skill of your vet., than hereditary or environmental factors for sterility.
90. Next comparede the breeding records of the different bulls we had used, eight in all, each of which had served more than 30 females (the lowest was actually 29, the highest 122). There was no significant difference between the results got by the different bulls, and as these mere reflect the figures I have given you for the females I will not repeat them.
91. I want through to comment on one bull which I call Bull x, which was the sire of three mummufied calves. Now, as you doubtless know, the mummified calf is due to a lethal double recissive gene. The heterozygous animal appears quite normal, but when at conception, an egg with this lethal gene is fertilized by a sperm with the same lethal gene, the results is double recessive and the embryo dies "in utero" at about five months and instead of being discharged becomes mummified and is retained indefinitely. The double recessive of course can only occur when both bull and acow are carriers of the gene. But if a bull which is a carrier serves a whole lot of cows which are not carries, half those resulting embryos will be heterozygous for this gene.
92. I had always suspected that cows in calf to Bull x abort more frequently than others, and here are the figures which I would suggest confirm that view. This bull served 74 cows abnormal, three being mummufied. Seven other bulls served 398 cows (this excludes daughters of Bull x because one would expect half of them to be herterozygous for the mummified gene) and 247 calves on the farm, and only 20 or 8% were abnormal births. ALthough we were dealing in small numbers in the case of Bull x the result I think deserves further investigation. On those figures the bull that was a carrier was getting 7% less normal births than the others, a serious loss of calves.
93. I would like to report further on the breeding records of Bull x daughters, since half of these would be carriers of the gene. It is of course impossible to identify the individual carrier unless or until she produces a mummufied calf. We had 20 of his daughters, 15 of which calved in the herd, and three or 20% of them were abnormal births. The numbers are again small but the tendency is the same. That is the end of the story so far as I am concerned as I eliminated all potential carriers of the Mummified Fætus gene from my herd as soon as possible.
94. Mummified Foetus is not common on the Island and is not of course the only hereditary defect in the Jersey breed. Indeed, every breed has its quota. Some years ago untershot jaws got into the news in a rather big way. Nowadays they are hardly ever seen. Certainly on the Island this defect does not prevent the animal concerned from feeding normally on the fairly long pasture, though in the countries with bare, shor pastures it might obviously do so. The procedure in connection with all defects is that the Herd Book Examiners in their tours of the Island, are instructed to watch out for any, and report back. Doubtless the Vets. also use their influence and advice to keep such things in check.
95. Probably though, the biggest problems that the Farmer on the Island has to cope with are Milk Fever and Acetona emia and infertility not caused by infections. Unfortunately though I cannot give you any statistical data as to their incidence, nor voice an opinion as to whether they are due to breeding, feeding or the stress factor.
96. As to the other common diseases, I can almost say "We have not any". Bovine Tuberculosis was eradicated about 1860, and there is a vigorous system of testing constantly in operation. Any animal moved from one farm to another or for export has to be tested before moving, and only occasional reactors have turned up since. It is perhaps worth pointing out that there are no cattle markets on the Island. In England these especially are the means by which infectious diseases are so easily spread all over the country and make it so difficult to enforce control. In Jersey, cattle are sold individually or at Farm Auction Sales.
97. Contagious Abortion, Brucellosis or Banks Disease was eradicated by slaughter between 1930 and 1938. Only 128 animals were in fact destroyed. I am told that in England a theory is being followed up that Brucellosis in cattle is associated with Slipped Discs and lower back pain in man.
98. Vibrio Foetus and Trichomaniasis are never known to have occurred on the Island, yet strangely enough they do in Guernsey, and are responsbile for the setting up of an A.1 Station in that Island.
99. Johnnes Disease does exist though it only occurred on three farms in 1962 and it is hoped that by a slaughter policy that this too has been eradicated.
100. There is no A.1. Articicial Breeding on the Island of Jersey, and the majority of farmers are vehemently against it. Immediately after the war there may have been a market for semen, had there been any aailable for export, but it was feared that the export of semen would clash with the export of live bulls. Nowadays vested interests overseas in Commercial A.1. Stations and Veterinary requirements is the importing countries have reduced what export there is even from the United Kingdom to a mere trickle.
101. (An Artificial Insemination Centre was in fact set up in Jersey by a Private Company in 1968. The Centre was later taken over by the States of Jersey Committee of Agriculture and Fisheries. Today about one quarter of the Island Herd is bred artificially and semen from Island Bulls has been and still is exported to many overseas countries. There are usually about six bulls standing at the A.1 Centre at any one time. These bulls are selected by a panel of Island breeds, and the stud is changed periodically to give breeders a wider selection of sires and to avoid any one bull being over-used. Fro<en semen from some 30 bulls is currently available.)
102. I have previously mentioned that the export of Jersey Cows to England was already well established by the end of the 18th Century. What of the exports to other countries which became possible when steam ships took over from Sail? Previously it was not possible to carry enough fresh water for cattle on the sailing ships for any long voyage. Thornton's History of the Breed written in 1879 refers to Mr. A.J. Arnold shipping from the Island in the seven years 1873 to 1879 - to England and America, New Zealand, Australia and France, no less than 7.310 head all told.
(a) New Zealand, I understand, imported her first Jerseys about 1860, and is unique in knowing their names. The Old Marquis, Dutchess and Lucy the Society and Herd Book was not started until 1902.
(b) The American Jersey Herd Book was started in 1868 and there are now some 400.000 Pedigree Jerseys in that country (1965).
(c) In view of the association between the Island and Canada where many Jerseymen engaged in the Newfoundland Cod Fishing Industry had properties and homes, it is possible that Jersey Cows were taken there some time in the 18th Century, though there is no record of this. The Herd Book was started in 1901.
(d) The South African Society's Book was started in 1906, and the extremes of heat and of altitude and humidity to be found on that continent are a remarkable test of the adaptability of the breed.
(e) Denmark imported their first Jersey in 1896, and there are over 300.000 Jerseys in that country today. The Danish Jersey has been bred to produce very high butterfat, and the 1976-77 average for the breed was 4.064 kg (8.959 lbs) 6.21% 253 kg fat (558 lbs.), which is 30 kg more fat than the heavier breeds. The success of the Danish Jersey has encouraged the development of the breed in Europe, particularly in Scandinavian countries.
(f) India is fast developing the crossing of the Jersey with the indigenous stock of the country. The first cross with the local cow (e.g. JerseyxGir) produces up to three times as much milk as the indigenous dam. Under the National Dairy Development Board cross-breeding scheme, in 1979, 1.6. million cows will be crossbred, 70% of them to Jersey bulls. By 1986 this figure will be increased to 20.4. million cows bred to other breeds, again 70% will be put to Jersey bulls.
(g) Of the other Herd Books, most were started in the early years of this century. ALtogether there are, I believe, nearly one and half million Pedigree Jersey Cattle belonging to Members of this Bureau today, and several million pure-bred, but none-pedigree, Jerseys in the World (1965).
(h) Of countries not Members of the Bureau, Japan has the greatest number imported from Australia and the U.S.A.
(i) In Russia , near Moscow there are two herds on State Experimental Farms which have about 700 head in each herd. I understand they do not do really well in the violent fluctuation of the extreme heat in Summer and intense cold in Winter. They are being used in experiments to upgrade the fat percentage of local breeds. It would be interesting to know the results. We have seen how successful the Jersey can be when crossed with tropical breeds, in Kenya for example, but these Russian crosses would be with Temperate Zone breeds.
103. And so we finish where we started. From this small Island the home and
origin of the breed, with an Island Herd which probably has never exceeded a total of
12.000 head, cattle have been exported and thave thrived all over the world, remarkable
demonstration of the vigour, the adapability, the fertlity, and the economic value of the
Jersey Breed. But if the animal overseas differs from the Island Stock, while it is a
tribute to that adaptability, the true perfection of type must be that found in the Jersey
in its original Island Home.
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