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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCING GENETIC MERIT OF DAIRY CATTLE THROUGH GENOME SELECTION AND ANALYSIS Title: Cattle from the Isle of Jersey: A perfect storm for change

Authors
item Sonstegard, Tad
item Van Tassell, Curtis
item Wolfe, Cari -

Submitted to: GlobalDiv Newsletter
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: June 17, 2011
Publication Date: June 20, 2011
Citation: Sonstegard, T.S., Van Tassell, C.P., Wolfe, C. 2011. Cattle from the Isle of Jersey: A perfect storm for change. GlobalDiv Newsletter. vol. 19 p. 15-18.

Interpretive Summary: More than a year has passed since the brief presentation entitled of the “Disaster of Jersey Island” was given by Dr. Mike Bruford at the 2010 GlobalDIV workshop on biodiversity held in Rome, Italy. The point of this commentary is to provide a contrasting viewpoint to this event tagged as a disaster. We intend to establish this as an event rich in economic and scientific opportunity, rather than focusing on the termination of possibly the longest running in situ-in vivo breeding experiment for cattle in the world. We assert that the importation of semen onto the Isle of Jersey was “a perfect storm” with technology, cryopreservation and economics all playing a role in making this important change possible. The genetic improvement of Jersey Island cattle provides a case study of potential opportunities and challenges that scientists and policymakers will face. This inevitable conflict will arise from opposing goals of implementing well-planned breed conservation efforts versus maintaining economic viability of livestock production and meeting the increasing global demand for livestock derived food. This paradigm will be typical of future scenarios of breed extinction caused by more extensive socio-economic pressures.

Technical Abstract: A change in Jersey legislation put forward by the Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society (RJA & HS) in 2008 strongly supported the importation of Jersey semen onto the island after nearly 219 years of breed isolation. Arguably, this importation could be considered the most significant “depurification” of well-known globally popular breed that had established much of its notoriety from breed purity and special product branding in the marketplace. The point of this commentary is to provide a contrasting viewpoint to this event tagged as a disaster. We intend to establish this as an event rich in economic and scientific opportunity, rather than focusing on the termination of possibly the longest running in situ-in vivo breeding experiment for cattle in the world. We assert that the importation of semen onto the Isle of Jersey was “a perfect storm” with technology, cryopreservation and economics all playing a role in making this important change possible. The genetic improvement of Jersey Island cattle provides a case study of potential opportunities and challenges that scientists and policymakers will face. This inevitable conflict will arise from opposing goals of implementing well-planned breed conservation efforts versus maintaining economic viability of livestock production and meeting the increasing global demand for livestock derived food. This paradigm will be typical of future scenarios of breed extinction caused by more extensive socio-economic pressures.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014