The nation’s two largest breed organizations are reporting steady increases in animal registrations, with numbers in 2011 taking an exceptional jump up from 2010. Once again the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) has broken a number of records, while Holstein Association USA says its all-time registration record set during its centennial celebration in 1981 is within reach.
At the end of 2011, AJCA reported 96,174 Jersey cattle had been registered, reaching a new all-time high for the association. This is the fourth consecutive year where more than 90,000 animals were registered, which is unprecedented in AJCA history.
“There are a lot of reasons that play into that,” says Cherie Bayer with AJCA.
First, the association has witnessed an increased enrollment in its core services. Also in 2011, an all-time record number of herds (907) and cows (132,915) were enrolled in the REAP program, which is 5,000 more cows than the previous record.
This package program includes registration, making recordkeeping easy and up-to-date, Bayer says.
The second factor, Bayer cites, is the growth of large herds, stemming from the demand for Jersey milk in California, Oregon and Texas, as well as Wisconsin, New York and Ohio. As herds grow, it increases the number of cows and calves to be registered.
Some of that growth is due to the use of sexed semen, the third reason Bayer says numbers continue to increase.
An underlying factor that brought awareness to the great potential for higher numbers was the increase of Jersey semen use. According to Bayer, this amount has grown spectacularly in the past decade, with a record number of 1.9 million units sold last year.
Even though AJCA has reached more than 90,000 registrations in the last four years, there was a drop seen in 2010.
Bayer attributes this slight decline to the economic situation in the industry. “Producers were more conservative in their spending but got caught up with their registration work in 2011,” she says, noting that in December alone, 21,173 animals were registered to close out the year.
She also adds that while registrations were down in 2010, a record was reached in REAP enrollment that year.
For each of the past few years, AJCA does its part to encourage members to help set new records. It uses Internet blitzes to remind and encourage producers to get their registrations in before the end of the year.
“At a certain point, reaching the record takes on its own life,” Bayer says. For instance, on the very last day of the year, 88 herds logged onto the AJCA Internet registration service to enter their animals. “The excitement had built and folks wanted to help break the record,” she says.
All of these records are certainly an indication that the Jersey breed is picking up steam. “It is a really exciting time for Jersey breeders,” Bayer says.
In addition, AJCA recently boasted that the official Jersey lactation average increased to 18,633 pounds milk, 889 pounds fat and 676 pounds protein. On a Cheddar cheese equivalent basis, average yield was 2,294 pounds – all of which are new category records.
These records come on the heels of a study published in the January 2012 issue of Journal of Dairy Science .
Researchers Jude Capper and Roger Cady determined that Jersey cows required 20 percent less total feedstuffs by weight and 32 percent less water to produce the same amount of milkfat and protein as Holstein cows.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt the Jersey herd in the U.S. will continue to grow,” Bayer says. “Jerseys offer greater profit by producing more concentrated milk on less.”
The Jersey marketing arm, National All-Jersey Inc., is also hard at work ensuring Jersey producers continue to see profitable returns for that high-component milk.
Sarah Gilbert, customer service coordinator with National All-Jersey Inc., has been working with groups establishing new dairy policy to see that all farmers continue to see equitable payment for their milk. She says component pricing won’t go away because processors recognize a demand for it.
In addition, National All-Jersey Inc. is working to draft a bill for the next farm bill that will look to increase minimum nonfat standards for fluid milk nationwide.
The number of Holsteins registered in 2011 jumped 6 percent from the previous year for a total of 360,149 animals. It is also the most animals registered on an annual basis since 1995.
“The last time we registered 360,000 animals in a year was 1995, when there were well over 120,000 dairy operations in the U.S.,” says CEO John M. Meyer. “Today, the number of licensed dairies is less than half of that.”
According to Meyer, registration numbers have consistently and gradually increased over the years, but 6 percent was a dramatic jump compared to other years.
He credits these increases to the profitability of registered Holstein cattle. “No other breed produces nearly the amount of milk, fat and protein as Holsteins,” Meyer says.
Last year, the association compared a herd of 3,000 Holsteins and a herd of 3,000 Jerseys using the Federal Order Class I market price for March 2011.
Looking at milk production, butterfat, protein, somatic cell counts and other solids, the Holstein herd yielded $246,575 more that month, Meyer reports.
This profitability extends to live animal and genetic sales as well. He adds, “Holsteins have a greater merchandising opportunity than what is seen in other breeds. The registered market has tremendous opportunity and potential.”
Because of the significant number of Holsteins in the world today, there is a lot of diversity within the breed, Meyer says.
Holsteins can provide milk for any market with the use of cheese yield bulls or bulls with high milk production traits. There is also a growing demand for Holstein steers in today’s beef market.
In addition, newer programs have made it easier for producers to utilize what the association has to offer. “Well over half of our registrations today come in through our easy online program,” Meyer says.
The all-time record of Holstein registrations is 400,000, which was reached in 1981 in honor of the Association’s centennial.
“I think 400,000 is a reality. I think that could definitely happen,” Meyer says, noting the recent success they’ve had in broadening market share in a smaller industry.
“We expect this to continue to grow. These numbers reveal the value of Holstein cattle and their profitability.”
Be they Holsteins or Jerseys, the numbers are clear – more and more producers are finding value in having their animals registered. Producers see profit potential in the more information, more data and more identification for their animals. PD
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