The American Guernsey Association (AGA) has experienced several years of growth highlighted by increasing registration activity and escalating prices for top-end genetics.

Last year completed three years of increased numbers of animals registered, and the AGA is on a solid footing financially, showing a net increase in assets in 2007 and continuing to be fiscally responsible to ensure its staff can continue to provide essential services to AGA members that add value to the Guernsey cow.

Production continues to climb, as does the functional type of the Guernsey cow, leading to increased longevity. The naming of Indian Acres Magicman Pistachio Pie as the Supreme Champion of World Dairy Expo in 2007 confirmed that the Guernsey breed is producing individuals that appeal to dairymen across the industry.

Like most dairy breeds today, the Guernsey breed is working to increase the longevity of the cow. An effort to breed a more moderate-framed cow with adequate dairy strength was endorsed by the AGA Board of Directors several years ago and has received a high level of “buy-in” from breeders nationwide. The change in philosophy can be seen at all levels of the industry from sire selection to the show ring.

With a more limited genetic pool, it becomes more difficult for the breed to make improvements for some of the health traits, while continuing to make significant progress for the production and type traits. However, with excellent support from Guernsey breeders using young sires, and several new cooperators marketing outcross sires, progress is being made.


Research is underway to evaluate ways to improve the reproductive performance of the Guernsey cow. Improvement in this area has been identified as the best way to increase the number of Guernsey cows in the industry, and the association has made it a priority.

An inability to provide enough animals to fill market demand continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the Guernsey Association. Registered Guernsey breeders have been able to reap the rewards of a strong market for Guernsey genetics. Live animals and embryos have commanded premium prices in the marketplace in the last decade with demand often outstripping supply. However, expansion with registered Guernseys is certainly possible. The two largest 100 percent Guernsey operations in the U.S. are both the result of recent large-scale expansions that were accomplished by adding significant numbers of registered Guernseys to the herds.

The Guernsey cow continues to be among the industry leaders for fat and protein percent and calving ease. As such, they have proven to be an excellent choice for crossbreeding systems that seek to improve components and calving ease, while maintaining frame size, dairy character and black and white markings in the resulting offspring.

The Guernsey cow has long been recognized for the high-quality milk she produces. The industry has seen a resurgence of farmstead processors and bottlers. The Guernsey cow is ideally suited to provide a product for these operations that is easily differentiated from commercial milk by its golden color and superior taste.

The ability to provide value for registration services will ultimately be the biggest challenge the association faces in the coming years. By providing services that are important to dairymen – marketing, accurate identification, breed improvement – by a dedicated staff, the Guernsey Association aims to continue to see increased participation in programs and continue to see the breed grow. PD

—From the American Guernsey Association