by B.A. Barr - The Breed`s Early History in Victoria. National Livestock Bulletin 1. October, 1931.
The progressive development of the breed to the position which it commands at the present time in Victoria covers three well defined periods. The first stage will embrace only a passing reference to the introduction of the Jersey until 1888, when the late Jon. Jas. McCullock imported the first shipment of pedigree Jerseys, comprising seven females and one bull, and will continue until 1901, when the first volume of the Jersey Herd Book was published by the Australasian Jersey Herd Society.
The second period covers the years 1901 to 1912, when pedigree stock were accepted for registration. From this time onwards, the Jersey was submitted to the conditions of the Government Standard Herd Test, and proving her capacity for butterfat production the breed has steadily improved, both in regards to popular favour and breed standards because selective methods of breeding were employed and those animals which failed to furnish proof of satisfactory returns were eliminated.
Since much importance is given to pedigree, and the younger breeder is reared and trained with a system of pedigrees, there are some who, not being familiar with the recent introduction of herd books, are sometimes disposed to make disparaging reference to pedigrees, which cannot be traced direct to Island breed cattle. Now, this conception is both unjust and lacks balance. There were many foundation or short pedigree cows which were better breeders and higher producers than some others bred in the "purple", and of long recorded lineage. In reference to this subject the reader must remember that the Herd Book on Jersey Island dates from 1866, the English Herd Book from 1880 and the first volume of the Jersey Herd Book was issued by the Australasian Jersey Herd Society in 1901. The latter society controls the breed interests of all states except Queensland, where a local authority supervises the welfare of the breed in that State.
Records of the early importation or Jersey to Victoria are not available in an informative manner. The first record refers to the importation in 1854 of a Jersey cow selected for Mr. T.J. Sumner, by Mr. J.F. Boodle, whoo returned to England, and in 1854 brought out on the Eagle a shipment of Shorthorn cattle, draught horses and an Alderney cow, which passed to Mr. T.J. Sumner. The next record refers to the arrival in Melbourne in 1868 of seven females and a bull from the herd of Phillip Dauncey, Horwood, England, but particulars of the names and breeding are not known. Although the name of the importer is not recorded, there is some evidence to connect these with the herd of Edward Wilson, Esq.
Until 1888 Jerseys were imported into Victoria, chiefly as ships cows, which means that seleced Jersey cows were placed aboard the ship before leaving England, for the express purpose of supplying fresh milk to privileged passengers, during the voyage to Australia. On arrival at the port of disembarkation they were landed and purchased as special family cows. By these methods, the Hon. T.J. sumner, who had large interests in sumner Grice and Co., importers and shipping agents, founded the family of Sumner Jerseys,f rom which has descended many high producing families, including the famous Graceful, Duchess and Handsome Girls, of the Melrose stud. These animals trace back to Duchess, bred by Hon. W.E. Stanbridge, relative of J.T. Sumner. It is recorded that the former was the only person in Victoria to whom Mr. Sumner sold or made a present of any of his selected stock. When Mr. Sumner wished to dispose of surplus cattle they were shipped to Sydney for sale. Whatever may have been the motive for this manner of disposal, it did not prevent many of these animals from returning to Victoria, because the Rev. Ralph Brown, J. Voice, and others visited Sydney and brought back some good cows.
During the period subsequent to the waning of the gold rushes, attention had been diverted to the development of rural activities and a good demand of suitable dairy cows ensued. At this stage of development was more advanced in Victoria at this time than in the other States, there was a strong influence to secure good cows, for which a keen market existed. Several shrewd cattle dealers made periodical visits to Adelaide, South Australia, and purchased typical animals. Notable amongst these men were J. Voice, who brought over Queen of the Isles and lady Grey, two beautiful cows, with magnificient vessels. He also brought Lucius (imp.) from Sydney. At the show in 1886, when the name of the section changed from Alderney to Jersey, there were 80 entries, with Queen of the Isles and Lucius (imp.) champion cow and bull respectively. A Jersey cow won the dairy prize, producing in 48 hours 118 3/4 lb milk 35 3/4 lb cream and 4 lb 13 oz butter. This was before the introduction of the the separator - a few year earlier - the exact date I have been unable to ascertain. Mr. F. Peppin imported several pedigree cows from New Zealand, including Bogotina, and in 1887 a daughter, Brilliantine, was awarded the champion prize, and was first prize the following year. This cow is one of the foundation cows of the Melrose Jessie family, whilst it is of some interest to note that the first three females in this line were winners in the show ring, as well as competitors in dairy tests. At this period the number of animals were comparatively few, and selection was determined by by individual merit. It was necessary for the cow to be a good producer of rich milk before she would be retained for either family use or breeding purposes. The bulls which appear mostly in the early pedigrees were those that had show ring awards or were crom cows selected of type and yields. Freeman, descended from Ed. Wilsons importations .. Champion in 1887, 88, 89. This bull appears in many families. Silver Belle full sister to Silver Belle 2nd, dam of Wilful Beauty, whose son, Wild Rove??? figured prominently as a sire of tested daughters, was sold for 180-gns, and was awarded first and champion in Melbourne and Sydney in 1885.
In the collection of these notes much assistance has been furnished by the expressions of opinions of older breeders who possess a personal knowledge of the Jersey in those days, and Messrs W. Woodmason, R. Anderson, D. Kenny and Geo. Mashall, affirm that the udder development was both capacious and well balanced, whilst the cows were chiefly of an attractive appearance, lightly condtioned and fine boned. Animals were not kept on pedigree, but on individual merit. Many good cows were lost through milk fever and sometimes owners almost feared for the cows to calve.
The Barholm Herd
In 1888 the Hon. Wm. McCulloch visited England and personally selected and purchased on behalf of his brother the Hon. Jas. McCulluch, one bull and seven ? Cows. Three of the cows calved on the way out; so that the s.s. Hub??ek landed 11 females in Victoria. This shipment included the bull Chap ??? and the cows Magnet, Little Katie and Showe? and Milkmaid 14th. The most successful ? the show ring was Magnet, with championship awards in 1889, 1891, 1892 and 1894. In 1893 this ?? was beaten for the premier honor ?? herd mate, the two-year old, Milkmaid 15th. Subsequently, the late Mr McCulloch imported Angler`s Boy, Opti?an and the females Claribelle, Pattibelle, ??arkspur, Capture, Empire and Charm.
These family names are well known. At ?? disposal sale i July, 1904, there was keen bidding when Capture brought ?? gns., Charm (2-years old), 205-gns., ?arkspur 2nd, ex Larkspur ( imp), 230-gns, Claribelle 4th and 6th, 65-gns, and Magnet 27, nine months old, sold at 40-gns.
The foundation of many herds trace to stock from the Barholm stud, whilst the ?? recorded pedigree Jersey into South Gippsland came from this stud, when in ?? to the Leongatha Labor Colony. Untill this time climatic conditions in Gippsland were considered too severe for the Jersey, but experience has proved ?? adaptability to the existing conditions, where, at the present time, the Jersey is the most favoured breed. It ?? on the advice of Dr. S.S. Cameron that the Jersey bulls were purchased for the Labor Colony.