Although a small breed, the Jersey is one of the most productive dairy cows and has an amazing ability to adapt to wide-ranging conditions – a characteristic which has led to exports of live animals to countries around the world. Jersey cows can trace their ancestry to the original Jersey Herd Book founded in 1863 by the Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society. There are currently circa 30 herds in the Island comprising some 3,000 breeding cows.
At one time there were many private dairies in the Island but since 1954, all milk has been collected and processed by the Jersey Dairy, a producer-owned co-operative established by law. A single dairy, one of the most modern in Britain at the time, was established at Five Oaks and, in 1981, the Board established a commercial executive to market its dairy products under the brand name of Jersey Dairy.
The dairy was the first in the British Isles to be awarded the prestigious international standard ISO 9001 for all aspects of its operation - from producer to customer - and recently the dairy’s laboratory was awarded accreditation with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), affording it international recognition for its standards. Today the dairy produces a wide range of exceptionally high quality milks and dairy products in keeping with its compliance to international standards.
Jersey milk is naturally high in butter fat content but is now sold as fresh full cream milk (5.5 per cent cream content), fat reduced (2.5 per cent cream content) and low fat (1.1 per cent cream content). A UHT fat-free milk is also available. Dairy products include traditional and spreadable butters, creams and natural and bio yogurts. New products which have been recently introduced include organic milk, dairy ice dream, crême fraiche and clotted cream.
Since 2002, people on Jersey have been able to pour themselves a cool, refreshing glass of organic Jersey milk. Demand by consumers, a wish to return to more natural methods of farming and support from the States of Jersey and the Jersey Dairy encouraged a number of dairy farmers to take the plunge and convert to organic. The dairy processes and packs three organic products; Organic Full Cream Milk, Organic Semi Skimmed Milk and Organic Crème Fraiche.
In July 2008, the States of Jersey took the historic step of ending the 200-year ban on imports, and allowing the import of bull semen from any breed of cattle, although only semen that is genetically pure will enable the resultant progeny to be entered in the Jersey Herd Book.