Articles on California
NAJ Director Mike Wickstrom
Yosemite Jersey Dairy
Van Exel Family
James Ahlem Dairy
Charles D. Ahlem
Hank Van Exel
Ahlem Farms Partnership
Donald and Elsa Sherman
Ahlem Farms Partnership
California has been the leading milk-producing state since it overtook Wisconsin as the largest producer of fluid milk in 1993. The Golden State also ranks first in the production of butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk and second in the manufacture of cheese.
Dairy is the state's top agriculture business, with 440,000-plus jobs and annual gross receipts of $47 billion. About 70% of the state's milk is produced on dairies in five counties in the Central Valley, including Tulare, Merced, Stanislaus, Kings and Kern counties.
Jerseys are ideal for producing milk and cheese in California, which has minimum component standards that exceed national standards (8.75% solids-not-fat and 3.5% fat for whole fluid milk versus national minimums of 8.25% solids-not-fat and 3.25% fat) and uses 47% of its milk in the creation of cheese.
California is home to the largest single-site cheese plant in the world, Hilmar Cheese, headquartered in Merced County. The company was established by a group of Jersey breeders in 1984 and recently expanded its cheese-making capacity by building a new plant in Dalhart, Texas. Combined, the two plants produce 1.9 million pounds of cheese every day using milk from many of the Registered Jersey dairies in the region.
Registered Jersey Facts
California leads the nation in number of animals registered with the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA), with 46,027 registrations in 2015. Fifty-six herds from California are enrolled on REAP, with an average herd size just over 800 cows.
The state dominates the rankings of the breed's high-producing herds. Two herds rank among the top herds in the country for milk, fat or protein production. James Ahlem of Hilmar ranks second for milk, sixth for fat and third for protein with a 2015 lactation average of 26,297M, 1,232F and 910P on 2,305 cows. Cal Poly Corporation of San Luis Obispo ranks sixth for milk with 24,064M, 1,122F and 822P on 103 cows.
Twelve other California dairies rank among the top herds in the country based on herd size: (750 or more cows) Ahlem Foothills Farms of Denair, Wickstrom Jersey Farms Inc. of Hilmar, Red Top Jerseys of Hilmar, Ahlem Farms Jerseys of Hilmar, Charles Ahlem of Hilmar, Bamboo Jerseys of Hilmar; (300-749 cows) Wickstrom Brothers of Hilmar, Jade Dairy of Hilmar, Twin Star Dairy of Turlock, Four J Jerseys of Tipton, Live Oak Dairy of Hilmar; and (150-299 cows) Hank and Carolyn Van Exel of Lodi.
Six California cows also earned laurels in the 2015 Leading Living Lifetime Production Contest. Three owned by Jer-Z-Boyz of Pixley ranked, including GR Jer-Z-Boyz Lemvig 8853, GR Jer-Z-Boyz Mecca 14045 and GR Jer-Z-Boyz Mecca 12608. Three owned by Yosemite Jersey Dairy of Hilmar also placed, including Yosemite Daniel C12360, Yosemite Elgin B9402 and Yosemite Fanclub Trader D13289.
The state has been on the leadership and community service forefront for many years. Three Jersey breeders have served the national Jersey organizations as president of National All-Jersey (NAJ) Inc. and three have presided over the AJCA.
California Jersey breeders have also earned national recognition. Ten have been presented with the prestigious Master Breeder award from the AJCA, more than any other state.
Seven California breeders received the national Jersey organization's Distinguished Service Award, including the most recent recipient, Charles D. Ahlem of Hilmar. Two garnered the newest national award, the Award for Meritorious Service, including this year's recipient, Richard H. Clauss of Hilmar. Both Ahlem and Clauss were honored for receiving their awards at the AJCA-NAJ Annual Meetings hosted by California Jersey breeders this summer.
In the past 35 years, 17 California breeders have received the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder. Included in this group is Paul Bianchi of Valley Ford, who was recognized with the inaugural award in 1976.
CLICK HERE for a complete listing of national award winners and AJCA and NAJ presidents from California.