Why Guernsey?

Why might you consider the Guernsey breed? This page aims to answer that question!

There are many good reasons to go Guernsey

Guernseys trace their ancestry back over 1000 years to Guernsey, a tiny island in the English Channel off the coast of France. It was there, centuries ago, that patient monks, sent to educate the natives and defend the land against pirates, mated the best French cattle to create a high-solids, high-quality cow for the dairy industry - the Guernsey. From the province of Isigny came hardy Norman Brindles, and from Brittany the famous Froment du Leon breed noted for its fine milk.

The selection of a breed of dairy cattle is a serious consideration. A dairyman who has profits as his first priority will put basic items into perspective. Using only total kgs of milk and return over feed costs can sometimes be misleading when trying to determine net profit.

The progressive dairy producer recognises that the key to success is the bottom line of the operation’s income statement. To show a profit with their operation, producers must look beyond gross production and size. Other critical factors include the value per unit of product produced and feed costs.

Dairying is a high investment business that requires many considerations by the individual producer. Those who study benefit - cost analysis will often make the profitable decision to include registered Guernseys in their dairy operations.

Measurable items which are important to the bottom line of breed selection are:

  • Milk flow: An acceptable milk flow for the size of the cow is essential. High milk flow enhances profitable production. However, total kilos alone may not be the answer without considering its value. In the past decade, Guernsey breeders have been emphasising protein kilos which has allowed them to emphasise milk. Litres and protein percent. The breed is on the verge of reaping the results - evident in new releases of sire summaries and production increases.
  • Total value of product: Not only must the total kilos of milk be considered, but also it’s total value. This includes added values for high levels of butterfat, protein and solids non-fat. All milks do not have the same value per litre. As component pricing becomes a more common means of paying for milk, the Guernsey cow will increase in popularity.
  • Feed costs: Generally the cost of feed represents about 50 percent or more of the total cost of producing milk. One also needs to consider storage costs and the production cost of homegrown feed. If for example, interest overhead must be paid on feed storage, extras litres of milk may not be a profit, but a necessity just to keep up. Fewer litres of high-solids, higher value milk produced by feed-efficient Guernseys can be a much more desirable option.

How do Guernseys stack up with other breeds?

Evidence supporting the ability of the Guernsey cow to complete effectively can be found throughout the world.

  1. Efficiency - The Guernsey cow is an efficient converter of feed to product. She requires less feed than the Holstein, yet converts feed into more butterfat and protein per unit of body weight resulting in two economic advantages - less feed costs and more cheese making components.
  2. No desirable Genetic Recessives - While other breeds have documented undesirable genetic recessive disorders, the Guernsey bred has none of these disorders.
  3. Calving Ease - Unpublished research from a major university establishes that Guernseys have the lowest incidence of calving difficulty of any of the mayor dairy breeds.
  4. Calving Interval - The Guernsey cow’s calving interval is comparable to other breeds. The Guernsey reaches reproductive maturity at an early age and can be bred to calve between one year and ten months of age to two years of age. This provided an earlier return on investment.
  5. Disposition - Her moderate temperament and disposition make her easy to work with. Dairy farmers who have milked the Guernsey cow confirm that she is the easiest breed to work with.
  6. High components - Her ability to produce high percentages of protein and butterfat enhance her economic value to processors of manufactured dairy products (cheese, butter, yoghurt).
  7. Adaptability - This cow is adaptable to any climate. She has flourished in southern, northern, hot and cold climates. Her fawn and white coat enhances her heat tolerance and reduces her heat stress which adds to her ability to maintain production levels anywhere. Guernsey cattle can be found in Canada, Great Britain, the Isle of Guernsey, USA , Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, and South Africa, in addition to several countries in South America. This is further proof that Guernseys are very adaptable.
  8. Milk Quality - With higher percentages of components, the Guernsey cow provides a more wholesome product. The nutritional value increases that value of her product in a fluid milk market. Her milk has also been proven to be an excellent and higher source of beta carotene than other breeds. Her characteristics of; quiet temperament in the yard, the shed and the paddock, ease of milking, a capacity to milk steadily throughout the lactation and an ability to produce on a minimum of food and to stand up to hard conditions make her " A Golden Guernsey " and an ideal dairy cow.