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The Jersey Breed in Queensland (1968)

By F. Porter, President, Jersey Cattle Society of Queensland.

 

Sixth International Conference of the World Jersey Cattle Bureaus held at Columbus, Ohio, USA. October 6-10, 1968.

Queensland occupies the north-east portion of the continent of Australia. More than half the State lies north of the Tropic of Caprihorn, and its northermost point is just south of the Equator. The narrow coastal strip between the main Dividing Range and the sea is more than 1000 miles in length, extending from the border with New South Wales in the south to beyond Cairns in the North. The area is one of mainly summer rainfall varying from 45 to over 100 inches and naturally pastures are mostly summer growing species. Winters are comparatively dry, thus restricting the growth and development of temperate climate grasses and clovers such as are common in the Southern States, except where irrigation is available. This strip, interspersed with sections devoted to sugar cane, tropical fruits, some grazing and timber, contains the main dairy districts, established on the more fertile soils or adjacent to the many rivers and on the cleared uplands of rain forests.


Formation of Jersey Cattle Society
Dairying in a small way commenced in the Brisbane area around
1890 and by 1900 was well established. The first joint Herd Book was published in 1900 and the Jersey section contains names of 34 bulls and 69 cows. The Jersey Cattle Society of Queensland was formed in October, 1906 and thereafter published its own Herd Book. ALthough Objects and Rules are almost identical with those pertaining to other States comprising the AUstralian Jersey Herd Society, Queensland has maintained its separate entity right up to the present time, but moves are under way to merge all States into a complete national organization in the near future.


Development of the breed.
Prior to Federation of the six Australian States in 1900 to form what is now known as the COmmonwealth of Australia, all animals brought into Queensland were designated as "Imported".
This term now applies only to animals from Overseas. From records available, the first direct importation from Jersey was a cow named "Little Beauty" in 1884 for Mr. W. Baynes of Brisbane.
Sporadic importations from various sources including New Zealand continued until 1896, when the Island bred bull "Jameson" (2260 PSHC) (a grandson of "Golden Lad") and the English bred cow "Beeswing" arrived for Mr. J.C. Cribb of Ipswich. These were followed by several other English importations and in 1903 "Dandy`s Queen" bred by Mr. W. Alexander of St. Quen, Jersey, arrived.
She also was a grand-daughter of "Golden Lad". The real impact of Island breeding began in 1904 when Messrs J. McWhirter, P.J. O`shea and J. Stewart visited Jersey and made several selections, including "King Lear" a line bred "Golden Lad" bull, who was also a paternal grandson of "Flying Fox". He made a wonderful contribution to the breed, particularly in the Oxford Stud. Many valuable importations followed over the next years, then in 1914 Mr. Burton of Oxford Stud made a visit to the Island and brought out a large consignment for himself and for other breeders also.
Included in this shipment was a young bull "Prince Palatine" a son of "Golden Fern`s Noble". At Oxford Stud he produced a line of superior quality and high producing stock so prepotent that their distinctive qualities are evident in many studs in Queensland right down the years to the present time, some 50 years later.
Two World Wars, plus import restrictions at various times for various reasons reduced subsequent importations to a mere trickle, culminating in a complete ban on all imports since 1958.
Although most Island strains are represented in Queensland importations, the "Noble" strain is predominant through "Noble of Oaklands" and his descendants "Golden Fern`s Noble", "Fern`s Oxford Noble", "Jersey Volunteer", "Right Royal" and others. Surprisingly two notable Island strains only sparsely represented here are the "Sybil`s Gamboge" and "Oxford You`ll Do" families.
Whether it is due to climatic factors, soil or pasture conditions or simply to breeder`s selections, Queensland stock are given credit for having retained Island breed characteristics to a very high degree. This claim has been supported by a top Island Judge officiating at a recent Royal National Show at Brisbane. Perhaps Queensland was particularly fortunate in the selection and importation of foundation stock mostby by Business and Professionel gentlemen who were real fanciers and rivals and they sought the best animals obtainable at that time.
In this connection you will note earlier references to such sires as "Golden Lad" and "Flying Fox" who were specially featured in the Island paper presented to the New Zealand Conference referring to line-breeding. [Item nr. 46)
After the 1914-18 war the businessmen fanciers bowed out and for the main part practical working farmers took over and developed the breed to its present position; and we would stress that the genetic material within Queensland studs is equal to any in AUstralia, as test figures and records quoted elsewhere will confirm.
In recent years there has been a more noticeable interchange of animals between Queensland and the other States of Australia. Sires from several Victorian studs have been introduced into Queensland herds; but perhaps the greatest influence has been from "Bemersyde" and "Francliff". Several Queensland breeders have sent male and female stock to other states. When Mr. R. J. Crawford of the "Interlaw" stud held his dispersal sale a few years ago, many purchasers were made by New South Wales and Victorial breeders.
A Government Artificial Breeding Station was established in 1954.  A group of young Jersey bulls was selected to commence the first bull proving scheme in the state, and semen from the first progeny tested Jersey sire was available in 1957. The outstanding sires for each year since 1957 have been retained at the Station and a further development has been to mate them to carefully selected cows in herd recorded stud herds.
Approximately twenty Artificial Breeding Co-Operatives are now operating. Their influence, so far as the breed is concerned has not been determined yet except there has been a decline in the sale of young bulls from some studs.


Jerseys in a Sub-tropical climate
Perhaps the main point of interest in Queensland dairying is the claim that it is the only place in the World where large scale dairying is carried on within the tropics, and secondly, the part played by the Jersey cow in this development which is based mainly on a butter production economy. Peak production of butter was 68.000 tons in 1938-39, and it now averages around 40.000 tons annually.
The Jersey cow, with her fine, short hair and soft loose hide, more heat tolerance and above average cattle tick resistence; with acknowledged adaptability, economy of production and foraging ability made her a popular choice in the past.
However, one reservation regarding colour should be observed here. While a considerable portion of Queenslands Jerseys are broken coloured, excessive white, particularly on top of shoulders, back, loins and hips is undesireable, because Queensland dairying is conducted almost entirely by outdoor grazing and such animals suffer severe sunburn and sometimes develop wart like or cancerous growths, a condition which can be aggravated by any injury to the tender spots.
Although we have no proof from actual research, we belive Queensland Jersey display longevity in both breeding life and production comparable with those of temperate climates. It has been claimed that the active breeding life of bulls is shorter here than in cooler climates but the writer knows of two Jersey bulls remaining fertil until over 14. years old. They were both bred further south, but came to Queensland as yearlings so were exposed to the same climatic factors during their whole breeding life, unless the first year has some vital significance.
Regarding female longevity, I will quote a few that come readily to hand, including three long-lived members of one family, viz. Dam, Daughter and Grand-daughter.

 

 Kenmore Lady Lotus. H.B. No. 2534 Born 1st Nov. 1918
 Her last calf born 21.11. 38 Age 20 yrs
 Her daughter
 Credition Miss Lotus. H.B. No. 11930 Born 17th Oct. 1930
 Her last calf born 1.5. 48  Age 17½ yrs.
 Her daughter
 Westwood Heather H.B. No. 33465 Born 15th Sept. 1940
 Her last calf born 24.12. 60 Age 20 yrs. 3 mths
 Westwood Sunshine H.B. No. 29321 Born 8th May, 1938
 Her last calf born 30.9. 56 Age 18½ yrs (approx.)
 Westwood Linaria H.B. No. 41411 Born 25th Sept. 1943
 Her last calf born -.8.- 62. Age 19 yrs. (Approx.)
 Glenrea Golden Duchess HB No 50563  Born 4th Nov. 1946

 Her last calf born 1.12. 65 Age 19 yrs.

 


The pure bred production recording report for 1967 issued by the Department of Primary Industries, contains the following information:

 

 1 Jersey cow in 14 lactations produced 5868 lb. butterfat 
 1   -     -   - 13     -         -                 4214 lb.
 7   -     -   - 11     -         - from 5576 down to 3019 lb bf


In addition there are many records of 8, 9 and 10 lactations with substantial production figures. Individual production records for the present standard period of 270 days show that in 1967

2 cows produced between 700-800 lb. butterfat 
6   -     -        -              600-700 lb    
26  -     -        -             500-600 lb       



Within the past few years some experiments in cross breeding Jerseys with Brahmans and other Exotic breeds to produce a dairy cow more suited to harsh tropical conditions have been tried in Queensland.
From the meagre publish results it would seem that production and dairy temperament are somewhat unsatisfactory at this stage.
The advent of Bulk Refrigerated Farm Tanks, Road Tankers and possibly the development of UHT milk, may introduce a new concept in milk supply. Meat production by the Exotic Breeds may be a better proposition in the more extreme conditions.


Cow population
Figures for 1967 supplied by the Bureau of Census and Statistics and the Department of Primary Industries show that 39% of the dairy cow population of Queensland was predominantly Jersey. The breed is distributed in all dairying districts of the State, but percentages are highest in the Coastal districts.
A comparison of figures for 1960 and 1967 indicates that the overall percentage of Jersey cattle has declined by 4% during the 7 year period. The greatest decline appears to have taken place in districts where milk is produced for the market milk trade.


Production recording
Production testing was very limited until about 1920 and much of it then was only for 24 or 48 hours, but in the next 10 years official Herd Recording for the 273 days period became general practice. S separate system known as Group Recording, open to both registered and grade cattle has been in operation for many years. Critics frequently draw attention to overall low production of Queensland dairy herds. This was due to open range methods employed, inferior summer pastures and lack of balanced feeding practices, but improved pastures and better methods of management are now under way in most areas.
A total of 1664 Jersey cows of all ages submitted to test in
1966-67 gave an average of 315 lb. butterfat (test of 5.15%) and this production records for Queensland Jerseys are as follows.

 Senior yearling 300 days 8295 lb. milk 6.5% test 537 lb. B.F.
 Junior 2 yr. old -    -  7197 lb. milk 8.4% test 605 lb. B.F.
 Senior 2 yr. old -    - 12978 lb. milk 5.4%  -   700 lb. B.F.
 Junior 3 yr. old -    - 10560 lb. milk 5.8%  -   614 lb. B.F.
 Senior 3 yr. old -    - 11777 lb. milk 6.2%  -   729 lb. B.F.
 Junior 4 yr. old -    - 11640 lb. milk 6.8%  -   794 lb. B.F.
 Senior 4 yr. old -    - 13333 lb. milk 5.3%  -   702 lb. B.F.
 Mature           -    - 14574 lb. milk 6.8%  -   922 lb. B.F.




Trends in production requirements
Some decline in Queensland dairying through labour scarcity and a swing to beef and vealer production is affecting all dairy breeds, particularly Jerseys which lay no claim to be classed as a beef animal, and this fact must have repercussions on stud breeding and membership in our Society.
Jerseys are not favoured for production and supply of liquid milk, as control in most cities and large towns is vested in Boards operating a franchise or license systems whereby wholesale vendors purchase, process and distribute milk.
Volume is the main determining factor as only minimum standards for fat and solids-not-fat are required. Control regulations practically eliminate private vendors or special quality milk on the market. Some milk supply herds include a few Jersey cows to bolster the low test factor of other breeds but this practice is not really very helpful to the Jersey breed as a whole. Unlike some overseas countries where butter and cheese production represents the surplus from a relatively large liquid milk trade, Queensland milk would not account for more than 20% of the total production, and of course butter is much less remunerative. Manufacturing milk, as it is called, covering a wide field of dairy products, will probably make up some of the leeway, but net returns are unlikely to match those from liquid milk in the forseeable future.
The trend towards supplying whole milk to factories for the manufacture of milk powders, casein and other products is rapidly focussing attention on the non-fat solids content of milk, which are variously claimed as too valuable for animal feeding or as being wasted if used on the farm, which of course is not strictly true.
The world may need the protein and lactose of milk for inclusion in human diet, but what of the economics or the proposition if butterfat is relegated to a secondary position and becomes unsaleable surplus in the suggested change of roles? Jersey milk has a very favourable percentage margin in total solids, but the nonfat margin is much less and could be cancelled out by the greater volume of milk produced by another breed.
About five years ago our SOciety, with the assistance of the Herd Recording Department, conducted the first Milk Solids Competition in AUstralia. We are conducting another competition this year on a larger scale.
Do we breed for higher non-fat solids content, or breed for lower butterfat content with greater volume of milk, or again, leave well alone and seek greater productivity in all departments?


Acknowledgements
I desire to acknowledge the assistance and co-operation given to me by Mr. S.E. Pegg, Chief Adviser, Herd Recording, Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane, in obtaining production and statistical information. My thanks are extended also to the staff of the Jersey Cattle Society of Queensland for their help in obtaining material.
"The Jersey Breed" - a book compiled by the late Mr. G.T. Nuttall and published by Queensland Jersey Cattle Society in 1938 was used to check on the early history of the breed.

 
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