Hol­steins lead but other breeds gain ground

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

The Hol­stein cow orig­i­nated in the Nether­lands. The first Hol­stein-Friesian cow to come to North Amer­ica was im­ported from Hol­land to the United States in 1881. That same year, Hol­steins made their way into the pioneer herd of Michael Cook and Son of Aultsville, On­tario. Her­man Bollert of Cas­sel, On­tario, bought foun­da­tion stock from Cook in 1883. The vast ma­jor­ity of Hol­steins in Canada to­day trace to two an­i­mals owned by Bollert: Tidy Abbek­erk and Aaltje Posch 4th. A de­pres­sion forced Bollert to dis­perse his herd in 1896 and many fel­low breed­ers pur­chased his su­pe­rior cat­tle, fur­ther­ing Hol­stein ge­net­ics across Canada.

In 1924, T.B. Ma­cauley of Mount Vic­to­ria Farms (Montvic) of Hud­son, Québec, ac­quired some of the same seed stock from James Ret­tie and Alfred Hulet in On­tario's Ox­ford County. An­i­mals from this su­pe­rior Montvic herd would have a last­ing im­pact on the Hol­stein breed in Canada as many of th­ese an­i­mals are the de­scen­dants of the an­i­mals found in Canada's Hol­stein herd book to­day.

While some breed­ers were skep­ti­cal of the black and whites in the early years, the Hol­stein proved her worth and be­came pop­u­lar dur­ing the De­pres­sion years when the eco­nomics of feed con­ver­sions were crit­i­cal.


The Ayr­shire breed orig­i­nated from the moun­tain­ous re­gions of Ayr county in Scot­land, a coun­try where the to­pog­ra­phy varies from sea level up to 2,000 feet in the moun­tains.

The breed de­vel­oped its red and white char­ac­ter­is­tics around the year 1800 but was only rec- og­nized in 1814. The breed ar­rived in Canada in the early 1800s through Scot­tish set­tlers. In 1870, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Im­porters and Ayr­shire Breed­ers of Québec was founded.

The Cana­dian Ayr­shire As­so­ci­a­tion was founded in 1872. It was only on March 10, 1898 that those two as­so­ci­a­tions merged to be­come the Ayr­shire Breed­ers' As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada.

The Cana­dian Ayr­shire breed is fa­mous through­out the world as a ge­netic source of dairy cat­tle of su­pe­rior qual­ity. Ayr­shire cows have the milk pro­duc­tion and high component level in milk needed to sat­isfy the world's mar­ket de­mand. The Ayr­shire breed has the low­est so­matic cells count in Canada.

They are fa­mous for their func­tional con­for­ma­tion, are free of ge­netic dis­ease, have easy calv-

ings and are adapted to vari­able en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions, even dif­fi­cult ones.


Jerseys first came to Canada in 1868 to the prov­ince of Québec. The Amer­i­can Jersey Cat­tle Club pro­vided reg­istry ser­vices to Jersey own­ers and breed­ers in Canada un­til the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion (es­tab­lished in 1901) be­gan its own herd book in 1905. The breed has known pe­ri­ods of growth, ex­pan­sion and re­treat over the past cen­tury. Mar­kets for All-Jersey milk were cre­ated and caused a great burst of in­ter­est in the breed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. When pool­ing of milk was in­tro­duced in the 1960s the breed went through a pe­riod of de­cline in ac­tiv­ity with the loss of spe­cial­ized mar­kets for milk. Many ded­i­cated Jersey own­ers main­tained their in­ter­est in the breed and kept prof­itable an­i­mals dur­ing this “low time” for the breed.

In the 1980s a push for greater pro­duc­tiv­ity be­gan and the for­tunes of the breed turned around. Higher pro­duc­tion cou­pled with the in­tro­duc­tion Mul­ti­ple Component Pric­ing has led to an ever-in­creas­ing level of de­mand for Jerseys. Over the past two decades scores of records for high pro­duc­tion and sale ring prices have been set and re-set with reg­u­lar­ity.

Jerseys from Canada have al­ways been in strong de­mand. The breed is ver­sa­tile and re­spon­sive and thus is well able to keep up with chang­ing times and re­quire­ments. In re­cent years, there has been a re­newed do­mes­tic mar­ket for Jerseys, due par­tially to changes in milk pric­ing across Canada to favour pro­duc­tion of but­ter­fat, along with the many other pro­duc­tion ef­fi­cien­cies that the breed pos­sesses.

Jersey Canada has seen a dra­matic in­crease in the num­ber of new mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion, with sub­stan­tial in­creases in the per­cent­age of Cana­dian dairy herds hav­ing at least some Jerseys. Mem­ber­ship is at the high­est lev­els since the late 1960s, and reg­is­tra­tion num­bers are also trend­ing up­ward. This is no doubt due in part to a size­able in­crease in the num­ber of Jerseys in em­bryo col­lec­tion and trans­fer pro­grams.

The Jersey breed was de­vel­oped on Jersey Is­land, one of a se­ries of small Chan­nel Islands in the chan­nel be­tween Eng­land and France, just off the coast of Nor­mandy, France. Jersey Is­land is about forty five square miles and is renowned as a tourism and bank­ing cen­tre, for its re­mark­able Jersey Royal pota­toes and, of course, for the Jersey cow. Sixty years ago there were over 1,000 prop­er­ties on this small is­land where at least a cou­ple of Jersey cows would be kept. To­day there are less than 30 func­tion­ing farms some of which are quite large and mod­ern.

It is the­o­rized that some of the foun­da­tion ge­net­ics for the Jersey breed came from Africa. This would ex­plain why the breed ex­hibits strong tol­er­ance to heat and high hu­mid­ity con­di­tions. For over 200 years the im­por­ta­tion of any live bovines, se­men or em­bryos has been re­stricted on Jersey. This could well ex­plain why the breed is noted for its abil­ity to “breed true” to type. In July 2008, the ban on se­men im­ports to Jersey Is­land was lifted.

On Jersey Is­land the dairy ra­tions were pri­mar­ily for­age­based, thus re­quir­ing a cow that could ef­fi­ciently con­vert grasses and legumes into milk and milk solids. Jersey own­ers placed em­pha­sis on de­vel­op­ing a breed of cows with very high solids lev­els in her milk. This se­lec­tion over

gen­er­a­tions has cre­ated a cow with ex­tra­or­di­nary lev­els of but­ter­fat rel­a­tive to the other com­mon breeds of dairy cat­tle to­day.

For much of the first six decades of the 20th cen­tury, Jersey Is­land was the source of breed­ing stock to start Jersey pop­u­la­tions all over the globe. The breed has been par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy in New Zealand, Aus­tralia, Den­mark, the United States, South Africa, Great Bri­tain and Canada. In more re­cent times th­ese coun­tries have been the source of seed stock for na­tional Jersey herds in the Cen­tral and South Amer­i­can coun­tries of Brazil, Gu­atemala, Ar­gentina, Peru, Uruguay, Colom­bia, Venezuela and Costa Rica. Mex­ico has be­come a prom­i­nent im­porter and breeder of Jerseys as well. Pop­u­la­tions of Jerseys are grow­ing in France, Ja­pan, Ger­many, Italy, the Nether­lands, Switzer­land and Kenya.

In fact, there has been a record num­ber of Jersey reg­is­tra­tions since 1967.

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE: The Jersey has many at­tributes while many breed­ers swear by the Ayr­shires. Both breeds were on dis­play at a re­cent Wil­liamstown Fair.

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