Welcome to the World Jersey Cattle Bureau
Follow this link to read an excellent brochure on the advantages of the breed:
Produced by the American Jertsey Cattle Association
By Anne Perchard MBE - Patron of the WJCB
Today, the Jersey breed is the second largest breed of dairy cattle in the world. With its ability to adapt to many kinds of climates, environments and management practices, the Jersey is a cow for all seasons, and for all reasons.
The origins of the breed are lost in the mists of time, but events of thousands of years ago had a profound bearing on the development of a cow that has proved to be different from all others. As sea levels rose over the centuries, the group of islands now known as the Channel Islands became isolated from the European mainland. It was natural that domestication of the cattle would then develop. Indeed, for centuries, the Jersey cow has been developed in its island home by farmers who recognised its qualities for producing butter and cheese, and this excellence was identified as early as the eighteenth century with a lively export trade to England and beyond.
The nineteenth century proved a prolific period for the development of the Jersey cow around the world. Such was the demand for Jerseys in the early 1800s that in 1833 the Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society (RJA&HS) was formed, and in 1834, the first scale of points was introduced to make improvements to the breed. Later, in 1866, the Jersey Herd Book was founded since when virtually all Island Jerseys have been registered.
Jersey is just 45 square miles in area, and the cattle population has never been many more than 12,000 head, yet, in the three years prior to the founding of the RJA&HS, no less than 5,756 head were exported.
The flourishing times for the breed was the period from the 1860s to the First World War when the Jersey cow enjoyed the greatest period of development for the breed worldwide. For many years, thousands of animals were shipped to the USA annually, but records show that early settlers took Jerseys there in 1657! Canada imported her first Jerseys in 1868. Jerseys first went to South Africa in 1880, and in 1862 New Zealand imported her first cattle.
Although records of earlier importations into Australia are not available, it is believed that the first Jerseys arrived as "ship cows." The first reference of a Jersey dates back to 1829 when Mr. J. T. Palmer of Sydney advertised the sale of 200 pure bred Jerseys.
Latin America imported its first Jerseys before the turn of the century. Records show that around 1892, the first cattle went to Guatemala. Brazil had its first Jerseys four years later. But it was probably Costa Rica that first imported the breed to Central and South America in 1873.
By the 1700s, Jerseys were being exported in large numbers to England as they were recognised for their superior quality milk. Such was the demand in the middle of the 18th century that French farmers were sending their cattle to Jersey to be domiciled for a few weeks before exporting them to England as Jerseys. A law was passed in 1763 in the courts of Jersey to prohibit cattle importation from France. This law was extended later and finally an act of 1878 declared that no bovine animals could be imported to the Island. This law remains today to protect the breed from "invasion" of other stock.
The Scandinavian countries, notably Sweden and Denmark, imported their first Jerseys in the 1890s and other European countries have, from time to time, imported the breed.
Today, it is considered that Jersey cattle can be found in nearly every country. In many instances, the Jerseys have been kept pure, if not registered, but the breed has also been used very extensively, particularly in tropical climates, as a cross to improve indigenous cattle.