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 later.
 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 conformation.
 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.

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