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 by Poena van Niekerk (South Africa)

The Jersey breed continues to gain market share in Africa.  Several exports from South Africa were made in the last 12 months and for the first time cattle went to Ghana.  In Rwanda the Jersey breed is still increasing after some 1,000 heifers were exported from South Africa.

South Africa
The Jersey breed is officially the breed with the most registered cows under official performance testing.  The Jersey improved their market share from 49% in 2005 to 51% in 2006.  The use of AI is the most important indicator that the Jersey breed is growing, both the registered and commercial section.  In fig.1 it is clear that the use of AI has nearly double in the last 6 years. In 2001 177,060 units were sold.  This figure improved to 271 701 in 2006. Of this 60,000 units went into cross breeding herds.

Fig 1. Semen sales 

The total number of registered cattle showed a small increase in the last four years.  Fig 2 indicates that there was an increase from 82,500 animals in 2005 to 84,500 animals in 2006. When you look at fig 3 it is clear that the individual herds are increasing in size.  The members have decreased from 590 members in 2,000 to 440 in 2006.  In the same period the registered animals in creased from 82,500 to 84,500.

Fig 2. Registered cattle

Fig 3. Members

Fig 4. Distribution of herds

Fig 4 indicates that the major change was in the herd size.  In 2004 6% of the herds were lager than 300 cows. In 2006 13% were lager than 300 cows.  In 2004 29% of the herds were less than 50 cows and in 2006 22%.

The latest growth point for Jerseys in Africa is Zambia.  In the person of Dave Harvey, Zambia has a true Jersey ambassador.  In the last five years Zambia saw an increase of 25% in Jersey membership and the cows in milk increased from 1,200 to 3,000.  The genetics used in Zambia are mainly from North America (US and Canada).  A small portion of South African and New Zealand Genetics are used.  There was a big growth in the amount of smallholder that milked Jerseys. They increased from 100 to 1,300 in the last five years.  The percentage of AI used increased from 0% in 2002 to 1,200 units in 2006.

The Kenya situation is interesting.  There are 3 million dairy cows in Kenya of which approximately 400,000 is Jerseys.  However the membership of the Jersey society stayed the same at 30 members.  The total number of semen used in Kenya is 500,000 units.  The local market dominates with 350,000 units and the balance is distributed between North America, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

The rest of Africa
A number of exports from South Africa have been reported to Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Rwanda, Ghana and Lesotho. Over 1,000 heifers have been exported to Rwanda in the last five years.

One of the worrying factors for the developing countries is the dumping of cheap inferior semen.  This is done by donations from big companies that are involved in educating the upcoming small-scale farmers.  This is a very shortsighted policy. Some countries are realizing this and are loosing faith in overseas genetics.  Fortunately the bulk of this cheap semen is not Jersey semen.  It is important that the major Jersey countries realize that everybody in Africa is not ignorant and that this message is sent through to the AI companies to ensure that no inferior semen is dumped in Africa.

Respectfully submitted

Poena van Niekerk
Vice-President for Africa, World Jersey Cattle Bureau                                                                                                  June 2007

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