Articles on California
Yosemite Jersey Dairy
Van Exel Family
James Ahlem Dairy
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 34,096 registrations in 2013. The state also is tops for number of cows appraised (nearly 31,000) and dollars contributed to Project Equity (nearly $230,000).
Fifty-six herds from California are enrolled on REAP, with an average herd size just over 800 cows.
The state is home to many high-producing Registered Jerseys. Three Hilmar herds rank among the top herds in the country for milk, fat and protein production. Charles Ahlem ranks ninth for milk, seventh for fat and sixth for protein with a 2012 lactation average of 23,596M, 1,147F and 858P on 2,967 cows. James Ahlem ranks seventh for milk and ninth for protein with 23,693M, 1,107F and 846P on 2,051 cows. Wickstrom Jersey Farms Inc. ranks eighth for fat with 22,304M, 1,136F and 816P on 1,715 cows.
During 2013, several California cows produced records that rank among the top in the nation for milk, fat, protein and cheee yield. Hilmar Saber 21744, owned by Charles Ahlem, produced a record of 37,600M, 1,231F, 1,148P and 3,554CY, which ranks first for milk and ninth for protein. Peterson Q Impuls Leba 2123, owned by Hank and Carolyn Van Exel, Lodi, produced 34,240M, 1,615F, 1,145P and 3,955CY, which ranks second for milk, 10th for protein and eighth for cheese yield.
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, including the most recent past president, Bob Bignami of Orland.
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.
Six California breeders received the national Jersey organization's Distinguished Service Award and one garnered the newest national award - the Award for Meritorious Service.
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 and Vance Ahlem of Hilmar, who received the honor in 2011.
CLICK HERE for a complete listing of national award winners and AJCA and NAJ presidents from California.