SEBRING, Ohio — They spoke Japanese, German, Portuguese, English and Danish, but the universal language of individuals visiting a Mahoning County farm June 28 was the Jersey dairy cow.
From Columbus, the group wound to Holmes County for a field day at Clover Patch Jerseys, a 400-cow seasonal dairy owned by the Alan Kozak family. The June 27 event, open to the public, drew nearly 200 people who were interested in seeing the grazing dairy operation.
Sunday, the group visited the Grammer farm, then headed to Irishtown Acres, home of the Steve and Joe Paxton families, in Mercer County, Pa. Monday’s tour stops included Hi-Land Farm, owned by David and Greg Chamberlain of Wyoming, N.Y., and Den-Kel Jerseys, owned by Kip Keller and Robin Denniston-Keller, Byron, N.Y.
The New York leg of the tour includes joint annual meetings of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau, the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey in Syracuse. The meetings run through July 5.
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Gloomy milk prices worldwide affected most tour visitors’ dairy outlook. “There’s no one excited about milk prices,” observed retired Australian dairyman Eric Johnson. But, he added, there have been positive lessons from the U.S. trip.
“It really was inspirational to see the enthusiasm of those California guys,” Johnson said of the group’s visit to the Hilmar Cheese Company’s manufacturing plant in Dalhart, Texas.
Hilmar Cheese was founded 25 years ago by 12 central California dairy families who owned Jersey cattle. The Texas plant was commissioned in 2007.
Johnson’s words were echoed by Brazil’s Claudio Costa. “This was a very learning opportunity,” said Costa, who obtained his Ph.D. in animal breeding from Cornell University and now works with the Ministry of Agriculture in Brazil. “These people are committed to each other.”
Every year, the 39-member World Jersey Cattle Bureau leads a tour to a different country to learn about and promote the Jersey breed.
Bureau president Gonzala Maldonado of Colombia said the farm visits in Texas — to operations like Faria Brothers Dairy in Etter, Texas, which has a barn built for 7,000 milking cows — were “something unbelievable.” The Ohio farms visited were similar to many of the international visitors’ home farms, “only bigger,” he added.
“I’m very impressed with the idea to control the environment,” Maldonado said of the U.S. dairy farms he visited. “Everybody needs to be involved with biosecurity and the environment.”
Globally, the Jersey breed maintains a strong presence. In South Africa, for example, the breed surpassed Holsteins with total number of registered cows (90,787 head) as well as total number on milk.
Of note, the Isle of Jersey — opened its borders last September to the importation of Jersey semen for the first time in history, and the first calves were born June 11 (a bull calf) and June 13 (first heifer calf). Interestingly, the bull calf lineage has been traced to a female ancestor, Gypsy Countess, exported from Jersey in 1879.