Jersey Cattle in France
by Robert M. Gow
There is Jersey cattle association in France, carrying the long name of "Syndicat des Éleveurs de la Race Jersiaise du Continent." It was founded by French Jersey breeders in 1903, "for improving and propagating the breed in." It issues a herd book, "Livre Généalogique," and the first animal was registered March 8, 1904. On December 31, 1911, 279 animals had been registered, but the World War gave the Syndicat a setback, and we have no information as to its progress since 1914. It has been hard work to popularize the Jersey in France, although at the annual competition of the best cows in France, of all breeds, held in Paris, the Jerseys have proved their superiority as economic producers of butter. There are two main reasons for this lack of progress: the conservatism of the French farmer and the undersirability of Jersey calves for vealing, for which the Norman and Friesian cattle are preferred.
The province where the most Jerseys are found is La Manche, the home of the Norman cow, so highly valued throughout France. La Manche is in close proximity to the Island of Jersey, Carteret and Portbail being in direct contact with the island by water, Carteret being but one hour and twenty minutes by steamer, and these towns are the centres of distribution of the Jersey in La Manche. Some farms keep Jerseys only, herds of eight, twelve, fifteen, twenty and even thirty, but the greater numbers are very rare. The Jersey is mostly found in the possession of small farmers holding from five to fifteen acres, and of fishermen along the shore, people having but a small piece of land. In La Manche the Jersey is primarily the poor man`s cow. In some parts of France she is "la petite vache de château," the country genteman`s little cow but in others she is "la vache des petits terriens," the cow of the small farmers. On the larger farms in La Manche, where the Norman cow is preferred, one or two Jerseys are often found in the herds, either to supply milk for family use or to increase the butter-fat content of the milk of the Norman cows. The butter made from Jersey milk is found to be firmer than that made from the milk of the Norman, and a mixture of the two stands up better in warm temperature, has a better appearance and a higher value. Jerseys are also found in the environment of Paris, Seine-et-Oise and Seine-et-Marne; there are also some small herds in the Côte-d'Or and Loire-Inférieure. For the most part the Jersey is found in the possession of the châtelains, a class corresponding to our country gentlemen, who keep a few on their estates, but who pay very little attention to their improvement, the Jersey being with them a fancy animal, like their horses and hunting dogs. However, strenuous efforts have been made to popularize the Jersey in France by her breeders and admirers, men who were fully aware of her value as a dairy animal. One of their leaders was Mr. René Giard, Château de Bois-Corbon, Seine-et-Oise, who wrote a pamphlet, "La Jersiaise," shortly before his death in 1930, in which he shows, from official French records, the superiority of the Jersey as an economic producer of butter over the Norman, the Flemish and the Dutch breeds. In 1930 Mr. Raoul Lemoyne, a veterinarian, published a very interesting pamphlet, "La Vache de Jersey dans La Manche."
The following i quoted from M.E. Chevalier, secretary of Le Syndicat des Éleveurs de la Race Jersiaise du Continent.
Translation:"As to acclimation, the proof has been made; the Jersey can be raised on the Continent as easily as the other races of cattle. We have only to consider our annual agricultural show at Paris to convince ourselves of this, at which show the Jerseys of the Continent are shown by French breeders in numbers equal to those of any other indigenous breed.
"The Danes, although possessing pastures of an inferior quality to those of our country, have so well understood this that they are competing in our butter industry, and this thanks to the large importations which they have made of these animals, so superior from the point of view of milk-production and butter-making."
[R.M.Gow: The Jersey. N.Y. 1938]
The Jersey Breed in France
by Raymond Delatouche
From the earliest times the Jersey cow has been found here and there along that part of the French coast which faces the island of Jersey. The tendency to brindle colour and the butterfat qualities of the Cotentin type of the Normandy breed have indeed been attributed by some writers to former Jersey crosses.
When milk had to be skimmed by hand, without the use of a separator, breeders in Normandy frequently kept a few Jerseys in order to help the rise of the cream and improve the quality of the butter
Systematic trials were made in various parts of France at the end of the nineteenth century, particularly in Burgundy.
The Syndicat des Eleveurs de la Race jersiaise du Continent [Now the Syndicat jersiaise de France] and the Herd Book were founded in 1903. The first president was the Comte de la Riboisière, deputé for Ille-et-Vilaine. Professor Moussu, of the Veterinary College of Alfort, took an active part in the development of the association. He was responsible for the system of earmarking which has been in force ever since that time. As the result of a visit of enquiry to Jersey in 1906 recommended the milk and butterfat trials which were soon afterwards instituted in France. The Jersey began to appear at the great national shows; at Rennes in 1904 forty-five animals were shown.
During the next few years the association bought some bulls on the Island and put them at the disposal of its member
After the 1914-18 war sixty breeding animals were imported from Jersey, besides twenty-nine heifers or cows presented free charge to devastated farms.
Just before the 1939 war the destinies of the association were firmly taken in hand by Madame Hottinguer, who made it her business to safeguard the breed amidst the diffuculties of the occupation and to resume propaganda as soon as conditions became favourable again.
Progress has been constant since 1946 and has been limited only by the difficulty of finding animals and by restrictions on imports.
At the moment the association has 200 members, with about 1.200 cows, but that is far from being the total number of French Jersey breeders. In 1952, 463 animals were registered at birth. The number of confirmed registrations was 258, comprising 228 cows and 30 bulls. Milk-recording i compulsory.
Artificial insemination is carried out from the centre at Joué-lès-Tours, whose stud includes a Jersey bull.
The association keeps for the use of its members a bull kindly given them by M. Perrédeès, the well-known breeder in Jersey.
Breeders are distributed over all parts of France. They are most numerous round Paris, in the valley of the Loire and in Mayenne. They show a tendency to increase in the south, where the economic character of the Jersey is becoming more and more widely recognized, and also in beef neighbourhood, like Nivernais, where they are kept to provide butter for the farm.
At the Paris Agricultural Show in 1952 a Jersey won the prize among the smaller breeds for the greatest quantity of milk produced in three successive lactations.
Eric Boston:Jersey Cattle. 1954