Jerseys, Jerseys and more Jerseys!!!
As we have reached the end of another bumper Jersey year, it is time to sit down and reflect on what is all this Jersey craziness about. The world wide shortages of dairy products are playing a major role in an ever increasing demand for Jerseys, but the prime mover behind this world wide frenzy is definitely the awakening realization of the efficiency of the Jersey cow and the superiority of its products. With China the possible exception, all the developing and expanding economies are demanding more and more Jersey genetics to provide in this growing world wide need for economic efficient dairy production.
Crossing with Jersey
This worldwide shortage of Jersey cows are forcing producers in these countries with expanding dairy markets to look at alternative ways of getting these sought after characteristics of the Jersey breed. Crossing or upgrading with Jerseys is accepted worldwide today, as an alternative to buying expensive purebred Jersey cows. In countries like South Africa, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay these so-called kiwi’s has become a common sight on the large dairy farms and it is not unusual to see herds of up to 8000 crossbred Jerseys in these ever growing dairy countries. In Uruguay one semen company was contracted to provide 12 000 straws of Jersey semen for crossbreeding with Holstein heifers in 2007 (The total number of registered Jerseys are only 6000). The success of this practise is based on the fact that only the best proven Jersey sires are used! This ever growing demand of Jersey semen for crossbreeding are already putting extra pressure on the semen companies to provide the “right” type of bulls for this growing market. Most of these crossbreds are going into grazing systems and is there a demand for bulls that breed cows with high solids and high longevity.
A second extremely successful method is to use the Jerseys adaptability to upgrade local well adapted cattle in harsh climates. This method was used in the past with very good results in countries as diverse as India and Jamaica and more recently in Zambia on the Boran. We are also waiting to see the results of a similar crossbreeding program recently started in Suriname to breed smaller lighter animals that can adapt to the extreme wet and humid conditions that prevail.
At the same time crossbreeding is also alleviating the ever-growing global problem of inbreeding. It is found that breeders that are open to crossbreeding are also more susceptible to using a wider variety of Jersey bulls (Danish, NZ, Canadian and USA) in their breeding plan and not only keep to the accepted norm in his/her home country.
Crossing new frontiers
At our last WJCB council meetings we received the exciting news about new shipments of Jerseys delivered to Eastern European countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Russia, as well as the revival of the Jersey population of Albania. Recently I was also informed about the births of the first embryo calves in another successful Jersey embryo program in Russia, with more implants planned!
In Africa we are excited with the prospect of another new Jersey country added to our map every year. In 2007 we saw another successful shipment of heifers from South Africa delivered to Rwanda, a Jersey herd re-located from Kenya to southern Tanzania and the very first ever Jerseys delivered to Ghana.
In South America the Jersey is also at the centre of exciting developments. In both Uruguay and Argentina we see ever-growing Jersey crossbreeding programs, in Brazil an ever increasing demand for Jersey cows and recently the opening of a dairy route in the southern parts of Chile where Jersey breeders and Jersey products are the main draw cards of this new and exciting venture.
Jerseys Without Frontiers – Jersey Island 2008
In May/June 2008 we will have the 17th WJCB Conference on the Isle of Jersey. What an event to look forward to with the very appropriate theme “Jerseys without Frontiers” and some of the world’s top Jersey, dairy and genetic experts lined up to take us through some very aptly selected papers. Our meetings on Jersey will culminate in the first ever world Jersey cheese championships to be held! On top of that we have a not-to-be-missed pre-conference tour to the UK and a post-conference tour to France. All Jersey breeders, enthusiast and interested people should make sure that they do not get disappointed and register early.
As I am getting towards the end of my second term as President of the WJCB and are getting ready to hand over the reigns to my successor, I would like to emphasize the honour of being involved with such an exciting breed and enterprise worldwide. Not only is the modern Jersey-world dynamic and exciting, but a worldwide phenomenon that is the result of decades of hard work and planning – a true legacy of the WJCB and its members!