An aerial view of the dairy and freestall housing on Ashdene Farm.

Glynton Jerseys is one of the oldest registered Jersey herds in South Africa – this year will see the Durham family of Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal celebrate 90 years and three generations of breeding Jerseys.

Lees dit in Afrikaans. 

The Glynton story began with Cecil and Sheila Durham, grandparents of Peter and Dave, the Durhams currently at the helm. On 1 November 1928, they bought their first nine Jerseys from WL Atwell of Dundee, whose herd was called Talana. These cows originated from two foundation cows: Xenia’s Cardiff Rose 356 and Fairy Frederica 355. Willowtree Gipsy 713 and Baroness Lily Mabel 774 (imported) were added in 1930 and Keeping Mercedes 1223 (imported) in 1931.

The original Orange Grove herd was renamed Glynton after the former was disallowed by SA Stud Book due to an Afrikaner herd sporting the same name. However, the processing and distribution part of the business, currently owned and managed by Dave, retained the name Orange Grove Dairy. The initial dairying took place in Dundee until the farm Glynton, where Orange Grove Dairy is now situated, was bought in 1932.

Bulls from the Jersey Isles

Jerseys on a full ration in the fox system on Ashdene.

“We have always put a lot of emphasis on our dam lines or ‘cow families’,” says Peter. “Three of our top cow families are from Glynton’s founding stock. They are the ‘Wilamenas’, which include the Wilmas; the ‘Noels’, which include the Noons and Noonlights; and the ‘Petros’, which include the Pets, Pearls and Peppers. These three families have grown to 267 today.”

Shortly before and just after the Second World War, two Jersey Isles bulls, Sanctions of Rosel (20% above breed average) and Rajah of Rossmore (33% above breed average) were imported. “These two bulls had a profound impact on the genetic make-up of our herd, giving it a sound genetic foundation from the start,” notes Peter.

When Glyn, Peter and Dave’s father, took over the business in the late 1940s, he became one of the first breeders to use AI when he collected semen from Rajah of Rossmore, which he diluted with egg white. Along with a few other breeders, he was instrumental in setting up the bull station at Bainsfield Natal and donated the first Jersey bull. They imported the bulls Marlu Fashion Supreme (MFS) and Marlu Supreme Milad (MSM) from the US and based them at the AI station.

Top bulls from Jersey countries

During the early 1980s, Glyn decided to try out the top bulls from several major Jersey countries. He imported semen from, among others, Elenko Glen Lad (Australia), Tarnhowe Red Lindan and Ruscot Star Career (New Zealand), Fyn Tved, Fyn Index and Skae Jib (Denmark), Munifordias Gamboge (Jersey), Meadowlawn Bright Spot (Canada), and A-Nine Top Brass and Briarscliffs Brave Soldier (US).

At that time, Dave returned to the farm, and part of the Cairn Marsh herd of Pat Cairns as well as the Umoba herd of Charles Fraser were acquired. The Glynton herd increased to around 300 cows. The implementation of a balanced total mixed ration (TMR) became a necessity and was applied with the assistance of an American friend and nutritionist.

Peter took over the herd in 1993 and built the new dairy and freestall housing on Ashdene Farm in 1999, growing the herd to 1 000 cows in milk. In 2016, the milking operation was expanded to another farm, Craighead, with a pasture-based system that enabled Glynton Jerseys to remain competitive in a commercial environment. The cows at Ashdene were reduced to 700, with the target of 1 200 cows at Craighead. Cows were brought in to boost numbers in the new dairy, which currently milks 760 cows.

Breeding and cow families

Peter Durham.

Inbreeding, says Peter, has become a big concern for the Jersey breed. The advances in genomics have not fulfilled one of the breed’s biggest priorities – maintaining genetic diversity – but has instead led to too many bulls being tested out of the same top genomic cows. A good example of this is D&E Paramount Violet.

“We have endeavoured to maintain a sub 6,5% inbreeding coefficient in the herd,” says Peter, “while at the same time retaining a degree of genetic diversity. Health traits and fertility require more emphasis, along with a little less focus on milk and more on solids, using cheese yield and positive percentages as important sire selection criteria. Achieving balance, however, is our overriding goal. We have therefore been primarily using combinations of Danish and American genetics.”

To achieve these breeding goals has meant a move to an almost 100% use of genomic sires. Selected clean-up bulls are used from the fourth insemination.

Competing against the world

“We find that our own Glynton genetics bulls are competing very well with the imported sires and the rest of the world’s top Jerseys. As a result, a decision was made to genomically test a selected group of our own bulls each year and to tap the best ones to use as follow-up semen on both herds for better conception rates.”

In the last 20 years Peter has been able to structure the herd in such a way that approximately 85% of the cows are from their better cow families.

“We have, from time to time, brought in individuals from outside cow families to broaden our genetic base and benchmark our own cows. As such, world renowned cow families such as the ‘Flowers’ and ‘Maids’ are represented in the herd today.”

Peter warns that it is critical not to lose the important economic traits that have been the ‘cornerstone’ of the Jersey breed. “The long-term future of the breed remains cheese yield, and it is important that we retain that advantage while at the same time maintaining the fertility and longevity benefits of the breed.”

The Ida family has been well represented in the local AI industry with bulls such as Jack, Illustrious, Indiana, Ibis, Idal, Ivor, Induna, Isis and Ice. This cow family can be traced back to a heifer imported from Great Britain (Groombridge Oracle Image, born in 1949). The Mimah family on the other hand originates from the Marlu herd in the US in the late 1960s. (See Table 1.)

Table 1: Major families by numbers in the herd.

Daphne 40 Mercy 27
Floria 20 Mimah 97
Ida, Ixia, Ixora, Ilma 160 Noel, Noon, Noonlight 81
Jacana 73 Petro, Pearl, Pet, Pepper 177
Jacky 45 Petula 38
Jasmine 71 Salette 49
Label 38 Snowqueen 74
Ladin 33 Wilamena, Wilma, Wilted 267

A total of 101 AI sires from around the globe, along with 40 homebred sires, currently have daughters in the herd. (See Table 2.)

Table 2: Sires with more than 20 daughters represented in the herd.

All Lynns Maximum Vernon 95 Oomsdale Jace Gannon 24
BW Renegade 40 Preekstoel Paramount Lindt 26
Blue Mist Madrid 22 Q Impuls 40
Cal-Mart Navara Blade 44 Sandcreeks Topeka Echo 20
Cave Creek Kanoo 21 Shultz Rescue Headline 38
DJ Holmer 50 Shot O Nat Amazing 20
DJ May 31 Sun Valley Jupiter 29
DJ Zuma 110 Sunset Canyon Dazzler 21
Dutch Hollow Lexicon 87 Tollenaars Impuls Legal 67
Fairway Classic Kilowatt 22 Umoba Mozart Kevlar 29
Faria Brothers Draper 35 VJ Buffo 22
Faria Brothers Eusebio 31 VJ Haley 47
Faria Brothers Prop Joe 28 VJ Herodot 21
Faria Brothers Tarheel 20 VJ Hihl 20
Faria Brothers Walter White 23 VJ Hilario 23
Faria Brothers Juan Pablo 38 VJ Hitman 46
Faria Brothers GSP 31 VJ Husky 21
Glynton Renegade Wonder 37 VJ Lure 34
Glynton Barber Bill Isis 20 VJ Rodme 58
Massika Mackenzie 32

For more information, contact Peter Durham on 082 897 1040. – Izak Hofmeyr, Stockfarm

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