Welcome to the World Jersey Cattle Bureau

2010 Report of the Vice President for Europe


Despite the world economical downturn, or perhaps because of it, the Jersey breed made gains in most European countries during 2009.  The economical efficiency of the Jersey, especially with more emphasis placed on health traits; makes her a cow that fits well into today’s dairy scene.


An innovation during 2009 was the formation of the European Jersey Forum to consolidate the work of the National Jersey associations. The inaugural meeting was held in Devon, England in September 2009 when Anders Levring from Denmark was elected Chairman and Roger Trewhella from England as Secretary.  This forum will address the issues surrounding the Jersey breed in Europe and encourage coordination between the European Jersey associations.


The Nordic Countries – Denmark, Finland and Sweden

With the amalgamation of three Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland and Sweden under the banner of Viking Genetics, a great deal of progress has been made during 2009.

Denmark increased the number of Jersey inseminations by 5.2% to 98,000 and increased by 2,000 cows to 65,360 on official test. Jersey cow numbers increased to 12.4% of all dairy cows. The average yield was raised by 5 kg fat and 4 kg protein to 660 kg fat + protein on a national average herd size of 141 cows. 

Genomics are now playing a big part of sire selection and all bulls are now genomically tested with only the best ones selected and purchased for AI. The Genomic selection has made it possible to start testing and selecting bulls from other European populations where fewer numbers prevent high reliability.  This has resulted in the selection of the first Jersey bull from Sweden which came from the oldest Jersey herd in Scandinavia, Wirums Säteri, founded in 1883.

Viking Genetics tested 55 young sires in 2009 across the three countries and expect to maintain or even increase that number this year.

In Sweden, there are about 1,900 registered Jerseys, which is 0.7% of the total dairy population.  The Swedish Jersey Association has 120 members (not all owning Jerseys) and 75 herds with more than five cows registered.  The largest herd in the country has 141 cows. National production for Swedish Jerseys is 6,758 kg milk 5.77% fat (390 kg fat) 3.96% protein (268 kg protein).



In 2009, the number of milk recorded Jerseys in France grew to 3,522 in 385 herds with at least one Jersey cow.  This is a three-fold increase in the past ten years and national production levels have reached 5010 kg milk 5.57% fat 4.03% protein. 

The French Jersey Herd Book was established in 1903 with cattle imported from the Island of Jersey.  In 1985, UPRA Jersiaise was formed to represent the breed at national level and in 2008, this became Jersiaise France.  For the past eight years, an annual visit by classifiers to farms has provided statistics and advice on breeding and genetics.

Each year, the genetic committee of Jersiaise France, with the national organisation known as Amelis, creates and promotes a catalogue of AI sires available.  Seventy per cent of semen comes from Denmark with smaller amounts from the USA, Canada, and occasionally, Australia and New Zealand. Through Amelis, Jersey semen is available country-wide with an on-farm insemination service.  In 2009, 8,000 doses were used of which 9% was sexed.  In 2010, genomic testing will begin on French farms, in association with Jersiaise France and Viking Genetics.



The Verband deutscher Jerseyzüchter e.V., (VDJ) the German Jersey association has 105 members, 45 of them being active breeders.

The Jersey breed in Germany has remained fairly static, with just a small decrease in the number of officially recorded cows in 2009, down from 1489 the previous year to 1471 cows averaging 5761 kg milk 5.80% fat 334 kg fat 4.10% protein 236 kg protein.

The highest lifetime production cow in Germany has had 18 lactations and produced 116,109 kg milk 6.44% fat 4.16% protein.  Their highest producing cow last year gave 10,077 kg milk 7.04% fat 4.43% protein in 365 days with her fifth lactation.

The officials of the VDJ took part in the first meeting of the European Jersey Forum held in England last September.



There is some evidence of the presence of Jersey cattle in scattered areas of Italy in the 19th century. However, in the mid-1980s, a more significant importation of Jersey cattle took place from the United Kingdom and Denmark and since 1990 the numbers of Jersey cattle have consistently increased. Jerseys started the Millennium with a high reputation and popularity in Italy.

In 2000 there were 460 herds with 4601 milk cows recorded, producing in 305 days, 5251 kg with 5.64% fat and 4.08% protein. In 2009, there were 736 herds and 6506 cows producing 5949 kg milk with 5.08% fat, 4.02% protein (percentages are given weight on weight – weight on volume percentages are 5.36% fat, 4.12% protein).





Milk KG.

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Protein  %

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The average number of annual registrations is around 150 head. Demand for heifers is still exceeding the domestic availability and nearly 40% of heifers are imported from Denmark. All cows are milk recorded once a month and type evaluated once in their lifetime, or more, upon request from the breeder.

The national herd size average for Jerseys is 9 cows per herd. Although there are a few entire Jersey herds, most of the Jersey cows are bred in mixed herds with Holsteins and some with other breeds. The majority of Jerseys live in intensive herds from 40 to 800 head, with free stalls (cubicles) bedding or pack bedding. They are fed on total mixed rations with no, or very limited pasture. Jersey cows clearly showed their adaptability in intensive conditions, being very competitive in terms of longevity, health resistance, heat and cold tolerance. However, farming conditions in Italy include very different situations for climate and environment; there are Jerseys in the Alps or near the Mediterranean sea, where they also adapted very well.



The Jersey breed in its Island home is enjoying a resurgence of enthusiasm following the decision of the Island government in 2008 to allow importation of genetics.  Registrations in 2009 were up 11% year on year with progeny of imported bulls only being born during the second half of the year.  The RJA&HS Journal carries an in-depth article on the importation project which shows that some 7,800 units of semen have been imported from 55 bulls with cattle being bred at an estimated rate of four out of every five to an imported bull.  The ‘turn over’ of the Island herd should see the first progeny have a dramatic effect on the population.  Some herds are remaining ‘closed’, only using bulls from the indigenous population, and the RJA&HS is maintaining a breeding programme for these herds. 

The declaration by the AJCA regarding the ancestry of the cow Oomsdale Gordo Goldie Gratitude caused considerable political difficulties in the Island and the RJA&HS, on receipt of the declaration, immediately decided to de-register from the Jersey Herd Book the only son imported into the Island and any progeny.  The RJA&HS is now seeking research partners to undertake a full DNA profiling project of the Island herd and the ‘cryogenic museum’ of samples held by the Society which dates back to the 1960s.

The enthusiasm for cattle breeding in the Island is matched by an excitement over the development of the new dairy which serves the single co-operative that processes and markets the majority of the Island’s milk production.  This £12m investment is coupled with a marketing strategy that emphasises the quality of Jersey milk and its products.



The number of Jersey farmers in The Netherlands has been stable for several years and the Dutch Jersey association has 30 commercial dairy farmers and 13 others interested in the breed.

In 2009, 488 females and 265 male calves were born, and 3827 inseminations to Jersey were carried out. The 2009 national production for Jerseys was 489 cows 5,178 kgs milk 5.81% fat 4.07% protein (305-day lactations) – 50% of the Jersey herds are organically farmed. In addition 1853 cows with between 50% and 75% Jersey blood averaged 305 7489 kg milk 4.79% fat 3.69% protein.



There are approximately 8,600 Jerseys in Switzerland, most of which are to be found in the canton of Bern and St Gallen in the eastern part of the country.  Changes in the agricultural laws of Switzerland allowed the importation of Jersey cattle in 1995 and until recently there has been a steady increase, mainly imported from Denmark.

Recently, a new Jersey association was formed in the east of Switzerland to encourage Jersey breeding and its first president is Peter Sprecher from St Gallen.


United Kingdom

2009 was another year which ended with an increase in the number of pure Jersey females recorded by BCMS – the government’s record of all calf births.

Jerseys have increased, year-on-year, within the country since 2006 and there are now 6 per cent more pure Jerseys and 20 per cent more cross-breed heifers. This is at a time when total dairy cow numbers have been in decline. As a means of comparison, British Friesian has declined to 99 per cent of the 2006 level, Ayrshire 98 per cent and Guernsey 88 per cent. 

While this is an overall satisfactory position on the pedigree front, the second half of the year became much more testing for the Jersey breed within the context of the milk market. The placing of the Dairy Farmers’ of Britain cooperative in to administration caused difficulties for many Jersey herd owners as over one-fifth of the UK Jersey supply went to this purchaser. The position has been subsequently exacerbated by the pricing policy of two other cooperatives. This has created differences between regions of the country in the demand for Jersey cattle.

The good news is that there continues to be sufficient farmers wishing to move to Jersey production in the areas with favourable market conditions, and this has underpinned stock values, in the main.

From these difficulties, the Society is working hard to expand the market for specialty Jersey products, and sales of liquid milk have grown more quickly, in the consumer market, than other fresh milk categories.

Further progress has recently been achieved with Longley Farm becoming the first dairy to request that all its contracted farmers register their cattle in the Herd Book. This decision was driven by the firm’s desire to see all the advantageous traits of the pure-bred Jersey cow being maintained and a need to be able to fully answer customers’ enquiries about the provenance of the milk.

There are a number of initiatives in the pipeline on the milk marketing front, and we look forward to this providing a foundation for Jersey milk price, which will be reflected in pedigree values.




The 2010 annual meetings of the WJCB will be in Albania followed by a visit to Greece to see the new Jersey herds in that country.

We have a total of 58 delegates from ten countries registered for the ten-day tour and I want to record my appreciation to the hosts for their excellent co-operation in the planning of the upcoming tour.  We meet in Tirana on May 30th and look forward to useful and productive meetings of the Council, and to meeting the Jersey breeders in Albania and Greece.


I thank all contributors to this report and it is very pleasing to see the healthy state of the Jersey breed in Europe.


Respectfully submitted,

Derrick I Frigot

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