China mission reveals opportunities for Jersey farmers

Australian Jersey farmers could be major beneficiaries from China’s need for more dairy product while addressing many of the issues confronting the country.

China needs 109 million tonnes of dairy to meet current nutritional targets but last year Australia exported only 840,000 tonnes.

A recent dairy trade mission to China has identified Jersey as a potential growth opportunity and has sought to clear-up misconceptions about availability of the breed.

Jersey Australia general manager Glen Barrett, who was part of the delegation, said Jerseys could be the answer to many of the challenges facing dairy in China.

“Their dairy herd is starting to get too big and has fertility, feed efficiency and heat tolerance issues – all things where Jerseys would be far superior,” Mr Barrett said.

“It is mostly a Holstein market at the moment but the demand for Jersey is growing, particularly in southern China where the climate is warmer and the Jersey heat tolerance is beneficial.”

Fifteen companies joined the fifth Austrade-coordinated dairy mission to China. The program included industry briefings, site visits, business promotion, roundtable discussions and participation in the Australia’s National Pavilion at the 2019 China Expo.

Jersey Australia was invited by Genetics Australia to join the Austrade mission to develop and expand export opportunities and Mr Barrett said Jerseys could be a significant player.

Australia exports an average 10,000 Jerseys per year but Mr Barrett said some exporters were telling Chinese buyers they couldn’t buy Australian Jerseys.

“That is incorrect. By weight of numbers, we are a smaller breed but Jerseys are available,” he said.

Mr Barrett said having a consistent market would encourage more Jersey breeders to enter the international market.

“If the market is inconsistent, it’s hard to breed to supply to it,” he said. “If there was consistent market year-on-year, breeders and farmers would breed heifers to meet that market. If the market is there one year and not the next, that becomes a bit of a challenge.”

Mr Barrett said there seemed to be a strong shift away from US Proofs and he also rejected claims being made about Australian product. “One of the stupidest things I heard is the Chinese are being told they can’t breed Australian heifers to Australian bulls due to inbreeding from International suppliers” he said. “That’s wrong and if you want Jerseys, they are available.”

Mr Barrett said there had been 8-10 solid conversations with buyers looking for Jerseys with a bull order already resulting from the trip

“Jersey Australia is here to help exporters find heifers if they need them and we will provide continued reassurance to buyers in China that Jersey heifers are available.”

There are also good opportunities for Australian genetics and embryos.

“The feedback was that there is demand for high value cows and potential opportunities for more elite level genetics and exports of Australian semen to China,” Mr Barrett said.

“There are opportunities to take a collective national approach through the different A.I. companies and it’s not just China. There are strong sales of Australian Jersey semen into South Africa, good opportunities for Jerseys in Rwanda and just last week we had interest from South Korea undertaking an evaluation of Australian Jerseys on their suitability for their dairy industry

Jersey Australia will maintain contact with potential buyers, reconfirming Jerseys are readily available and providing support in certification and breed assessment.

Genetics Australia export manager Rob Derksen said there was a growing need for different types of milk in China.

“They have been very volume orientated but there has been a change recently,” Mr Derksen said. “The Chinese are drinking more yoghurts and wanting a higher percentage of fat and protein in their milk and Australian Jerseys can deliver that,” he said.

“Jerseys are also generally more heat tolerant and better feed converters.”

Mr Derksen said one farmer met on the mission had asked for 1000 A2 Jersey heifers from Australia.

Rick Bayne

Jersey Australia