Dairy production in Jersey is based on the production of high quality milk from the world famous Jersey cow in her Island home. There are 24 dairy farms in the Island with 23 of those farms (one independent) belonging to the Jersey Milk Marketing Board (JMMB), which has its own commercial processing company – Jersey Dairy to which all the registered producers sell their milk. Jersey Dairy insists in its Rules of Supply that all cows in the herds supplying milk must be registered in the pedigree Jersey herd book held by the RJA&HS. This requirement ensures the purity and quality of the milk purchased by Jersey Dairy and provides it with a unique selling point, with which to market the high value dairy products it manufactures.
The average herd size in the Island is 122 cows, one of the largest in Europe, with the ten largest averaging 210. The largest herd peaks at 240 milking animals with the smallest less than 10. The officially recorded average milk production per cow, based on Cattle Information Service (CIS) data for 2012 is 5,043 Kgs per cow. The milk recording service, managed by Jersey Island Genetics, records every cow in all herds on a monthly basis to measure milk volume, compostional quality and of increasing importance health data. This information is used by herd managers to assist in breeding decisions, culling policy and health management decisions and ensures the milk delivered to the dairy meets the required stringent quality standards. Individual cows in Jersey have officially recorded, over a 305 day lactation, between 8,000 – 10,000 litres of milk with the average butterfat and protein content of milk produced in the Island being 5.3% and 3.8% respectively.
The total number of milking animals in Jersey in October 2013 was 2,917 cows with the total population of cattle, including replacement heifers for the dairy herd, bulls for breeding and animals retained for beef, recorded at 5,195 animals. Adult milking cows on Jersey farms weigh approximately 420 – 450kg and require an area of 2.5 vergees (0.5ha) to provide the grazing, silage and fodder crops required to feed them on an annual basis. To maintain milk production at a commercial level, each cow in a milking herd will also consume approximately 1.0 to 1.75 tonnes of concentrate feeds annually (imported from the UK) at an average of 0.25 to 0.50 kg per litre of milk produced, depending on the amount and quality of grazed grass in the herds feeding regime.
Health of cattle in Jersey
The health of cattle in Jersey has benefited from isolation, Jersey being positioned in the English Channel, 12 miles from the French coast and 80 miles from the southern counties of England. This geographical position, coupled with the ban on live cattle imports for over 200 years, has insured that the cattle on Jersey are held in herds with an exceptionally high health status.
Island wide testing has proved an absence of Bovine Tuberculosis, Brucellosis Abortis and Enzootic Bovine Leucosis (EBL) in Jersey. In addition, veterinary observations over many years, have testified to an absence of many common bovine ailments that occur in other jurisdictions. The good health of island cattle is vital to the economics of dairying in Jersey and confidence in the quality and health of cattle, embryos and semen exported from the Island.
The disease testing programme has involved not just all dairy herds but all cattle in the island and tests are carried out for the following:-
• Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD)
• Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)
• Johnes Disease
The first year of testing identified freedom from BVD, IBR and Leptospirosis in all herds and a very low incidence of Johnes Disease. Accreditation from the highly repsected CHeCS body for BVD, IBR and Leptospirosis has been maintained since and testing for the above diseases will continue, with the view to gaining disease free status and in the case of Johnes, further reducing the incidence with a view to eradication.
For more information on CHeCS and the stringent testing procedures Island cattle are monitored under, their website can be found at: www.checs.co.uk