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 39,391 registrations in 2014. 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. Red Top Jerseys ranks sixth for milk and ninth for protein with a 2013 lactation average of 23,550M, 1,063F and 841P on 2,964 cows. James Ahlem ranks ninth for milk with 23,294M, 1,074F and 817P on 2,416 cows. Jade Dairy ranks 10th for milk and fat with 23,065M, 1,145F and 826P on 454 cows.
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.