Behold the power of Polled!

The History of Polled Jerseys
by Jay E. Herron

The Polled Jersey originated in Ohio sometime prior to 1895. According to an article published in 1908, all polled Jerseys of the time traced back to a cow named Funston (breed unknown) who was born in 1880. Two strains were developed, the first to appear being founded by crosses of registered Jersey bulls on common muley (hornless) cows. These were graded up by the continued use of purebred Jersey sires, selection being made of the polled offspring of each generation, the horned progeny being discarded. Thus originated what was later known as the single-standard strain. As in the case of the Polled Shorthorns and Polled Herefords, the development of the single-standard strain was soon followed by the appearance of a double-standard strain, founded by a few naturally hornless sports which were discovered in registered herds of horned Jersey cattle. These were bred among themselves or crossed with registered horned Jerseys, followed by selection for the polled head, and the strain was developed in this way.

In 1895 five breeders of single- and double-standard Polled Jerseys met at Cedarville, Ohio, and organized a registry association known as the American Polled Jersey Cattle Company. Key founders were listed as JAMES R. ORR, CHAS S. HATFIELD, and J.S. BROWN. It was incorporated under the laws of Ohio, with a capital stock of $5000 in 200 shares of $25 each. One of the founders of the association is quoted below:

"We are meeting with much to encourage us in this work. There is a rapidly growing sentiment all over the country for hornless cattle. In proof of the statement, I need only see the hundreds of animals whose heads have been shorn of the useless and dangerous weapon, the horn. My herd has been built up from the old cow Daisy, No. 1, a "sport," or " muley " as it is commonly called. She was bred to a horned Jersey bull whose ancestors were recorded in the other herd book. This calf, a bull, had only the semblance of horns, which were loose in the hide and not attached to the head. Using this calf on his own dam, we have as a result of the double cross on this cow, the bull Prince No. 1. All Daisy's calves insist on being hornless. She is still doing profitable work at almost sixteen years of age, carrying a calf at this time, and it looks very much as if she was good for another year at least. Having had about thirty years' experience in dairy work, first with the old native cows, afterwards with the Shorthorns, the Holsteins and then the horned Jersey, I must say that I have found meritorious animals in all these different breeds and good ones are found among them yet. But they were all possessed of one great fault no longer prized-the horn, and they all knew full well how to use their horns. Of late years we have done what we could, assisted by nature's work, to eliminate the horn from the queen of all dairy animals-the Jersey-and to-day we have no reason for being discouraged. On my farm are still four animals having horns that I could not part with because of merit, and because I believed we could in time produce a sire from the old polled cow to cross on these horned cows whose progeny would be hornless. Hence I retained them, and have not been disappointed. Every calf from this bull, Pride No. 1, has been hornless. This bull has always been successful in the show ring in class and sweepstakes. This fall at the Clarke county fair, competing with all dairy breeds, among them a grandson of the famous Brown Bessie, he was placed first over all. The cow or heifer, Pride No. 2, has never been tested with a full or forced ration. I have weighed her milk for four consecutive milkings, and she gave a little more than 48 1bs. of milk testing 5.5 by the Babcock, which, if I figure correctly, would give her credit for a little more than 1.5 lbs. of butter a day, or better than 10.75 lbs. in seven days. There have been two-year-olds with larger yields than this one, but when we take into consideration that her feed consisted of 20 lbs. ensilage, a little oat and pea hay, with a run to fodder in the lot, and having none of the foods rich in protein, it is a fair showing. With a properly balanced ration and a little forced feeding, she is capable of doing much better. I have churned in seven days from six cows, two being two-year-olds, 60 lbs. of butter, and for the year 1896 the herd averaged better than 300 lbs. for each cow or heifer. My experience is that the polled Jersey has proved to be equal in dairy work to any other breed. The great advantage of the hornless head makes these cattle far superior to those having horns. It requires much less space in stabling polled cattle, there is no fighting or scarring going on, and other farm stock is not maimed or killed by the relic of barbarism that some people persist in calling an ornament."

The association opened the American Herd Book of Polled Jersey Cattle and accepted for registration cattle which were at least one year old and naturally hornless, provided they had the "color, form, and markings characteristic of the Jersey" and at least 87.5 percent of Jersey blood. By 1897, they had 14 breeders in the company and had registered 48 polled Jerseys with 50 more polled Jerseys less than one year of age.

On December 11, 1898, the requirement as to percentage of Jersey blood was increased to 93.75, and on December 11, 1902, to 96.875 The offspring of registered stock or of crosses between registered stock and purebred horned Jerseys were accepted for registry provided they were one year old or over, naturally hornless, and of Jersey type.

Polled Jerseys were represented in the six months' dairy breed test at the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo in 1901, where, among ten competing breeds, they ranked ninth in pounds of butterfat produced, ninth in profit on butterfat, tenth in pounds of milk solids produced, and ninth in profit on milk solids.

Beginning January 1, 1905, a rather peculiar ruling went into effect whereby registrations were restricted entirely to polled cattle having one parent a purebred Jersey and the other an animal recorded in the American Herd Book of Polled Jersey Cattle.

In 1919 they changed the name to the American Polled Jersey Cattle Club.

Charles S. Hatfield of Springfield, Ohio, one of the founders of the breed, was the first president of the registry association and was its secretary from 1919 until his death in February, 1931. Mr. Hatfield's nephew, Edwin E. Stretcher of Yellow Springs, Ohio, states:

"No herd books have ever been published and I feel sure that none will be published due to certain factors and the course followed by the American Polled Jersey Cattle Club. One of these factors was the rapid development of the breed from `sports' (naturally hornless, registered Jerseys) which were registered in the Herd Register of the American Jersey Cattle Club, and of course, being hornless, were also registered or eligible to register in the American Herd Book of Polled Jersey Cattle. Such cattle were known as `double standard.' The necessity of dual registration imposed a double expense and burden upon breeders of the Polled Jersey. Furthermore the expense of providing for certified production and performance tests for Polled Jerseys was unnecessary in the case of Jerseys registered in the Herd Register, as this was already provided for by the American Jersey Cattle Club, and many breeders of Polled Jerseys qualified individuals in their herds for the Register of Merit. It will now be apparent that the attitude of the breeders of Polled Jerseys had changed in regard to the advisability or desirability of placing the Polled Jersey in the category of a distinct and independent breed, and at the meeting of the stockholders and the directors of the American Polled Jersey Cattle Club in May, 1927, it was voted not to accept for registration or record any Polled Jerseys that had not first been recorded in the Herd Register of the American Jersey Cattle Club, thus enforcing the double standard. Since that time the activity of the American Polled Jersey Cattle Club has largely been confined to extending the interest in the Polled Jersey and in aiding breeders of Polled Jerseys in the development of their herds, placing emphasis on the polled characteristic within the Jersey breed. For the past two or three years the American Polled Jersey Cattle Club has been really inactive except in handling cooperative advertising of the breed through the secretary of the club." March 18, 1931

Mr. Stretcher estimates that there are probably about one hundred active breeders of Polled Jersey cattle in the United States and other countries at the present time (1931). He also states that the type desired in the Polled Jersey is identical with the horned Jersey in every respect except the horns.

In 1938, the Arkansas Experiment Station purchased a purebred polled Jersey female that was heterozygous for the polled gene. From this foundation cow, Arkansas Champion Fairy, P1171430, came the polled cow, Arkansas Observer Lass, P1261315. "Lass" produced 9,846 lbs milk and 487 lbs fat in 305 days on twice daily milking while in the Station herd. Her type classification was Good Plus. "Lass" has probably contributed more the development of polled Jerseys than any other female in the south, through the contribution of her two polled sons, UArk Standard Prince and UArk Standard Majesty.

"Prince" was used as a herd sire at the Main Experiment Station at Fayetteville and the Livestock and Forestry Branch Station at Batesville. Nineteen of his classified daughters averaged 83.82%. His official DHIA proof indicated that he increased the average production of his daughters by 1103 lbs milk and 71 lbs fat. One of those daughters, "Myrtle", was classified as Excellent and had a polled son named "Lad". "Lad" was owned by the Arkansas Artificial Breeders Association was used as a sire at both the Branch Station and Main Station.

"Majesty" was sold to Willow Brook Farms of Hendersonville Tennessee. On October 21, 1955, the first National Polled Jersey sale featured 72 animals, with 61 of them direct descendents of "Majesty".

The November 20, 1957 issue of the Jersey Journal featured several articles about polled Jerseys. One article was written by Jack Mayo Crump, who was known by the name "Mr. Polled Jersey" due to his many years of breeding polled Jerseys and his fervent belief in their value to the breed. This same issue included nine advertisements from polled breeders including Fair Weather Farms and Normsland Jerseys. Most of the modern polled genetics can be traced back to three key sires from these two farms: Fair Weather Don Volunteer-P (born 1952), Fair Weather Champion Superb-P (born 1952), and Normsland Belle Boy-P (born 1960).

"Superb" went on to become the first polled bull to receive the Senior Superior Sire designation from the AJCC. His name is found six generations back in the pedigree of the breed's most used polled bull, Fair Weather Opportunity-P-ET. "Opportunity-P" had more than 16,500 daughters, an amount four times greater than any of his peers.

The country's most influential polled Jersey breeder was Stanley Chittenden, New Lebanon, NY, breeder of the two Fair Weather bulls mentioned above. In 1983, Chittenden received the Master Breeder Award from the AJCC, in part for the role he played in developing polled Jersey genetics. Chittenden flew to Tennessee in the 1940's and purchased 15 polled Jerseys from the Willow Brook Farm. This herd was the genetic source for countless future generations of polled Jersey in the USA and abroad. Paul Chittenden, eldest son of Stanley, and his three adult sons, Brian, Alan, and Nathan, continue the tradition of polled breeding today at his herd, Dutch Hollow in Schodack Landing, NY.

Today, there are many Jersey breeders who are carrying the polled gene into the future. Polled bulls like "Shultz Legal Critic-P", "Dutch Hollow Oliver-P" and "Maack Dairy Eclipes-P" have brought the polled gene into the mainstream. The use of genomics is helping locate future sires and dams, speeding the genetic progress and helping proliferate the polled trait.

In August 2013, a DNA haplotype test for polled was introduced for the Jersey breed and is refered to as JHP (Jersey Haplotype Polled). At least 2 different mutations in the same genetic region around 1.6-1.9 Mbases (UMD3.1 map) on chromosome 1 cause the polled trait (Medugorac, 2012). The first mutation is called Celtic, where 10 base pairs at 1,706,051-1,706,060 are deleted and 212 base pairs of DNA from 1,705,834-1,706,045 are duplicated and inserted instead. The second mutation is called Friesian and has been fine mapped to a small haplotype region, but the exact causative QTL is not yet known. Medugorac (2012) reported that the Friesian mutation was present only in Holsteins, but by examining haplotype similarity we found that the Friesian mutation actually has slightly higher frequency than the Celtic mutation in Jerseys. The Friesian mutation was introduced to Jerseys primarily via Fair Weather Bernard-P (USA634104) and Fair Weather Case-PP (USA633214) both born in 1978, whereas the earliest genotyped carrier of the Celtic mutation is Normsland Belle Boy-P (USA592073) born in 1960. Jerseys and Holsteins share fairly long sections of both the Friesian and Celtic haplotypes, but very little of either haplotype is preserved in the Brown Swiss breed, which may have a different mutation as noted by Medugorac (2012).

Information for this article was derived from the following sources:

"Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, Volume 12": April 28, 1898

"The Rural New-Yorker, Volume 67": September 26, 1908

"Cattle Breeds and Origin": David Roberts, D.V.S., 1916

"Breeds of live stock in America": Henry William Vaughan, 1931

"Breeding Polled Jerseys": Jersey Journal, November 20, 1957

"Polls Make Progress at Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station": Jersey Journal, November 20, 1957

"Breeding for Polled Jerseys": Jersey Journal, April 2005

"Jersey haplotype for Polled": Paul VanRaden and Dan Null, The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding, December 2013


Polled Jerseys. Dehorned at conception!