The Isle of Guernsey,
a tiny island in the English Channel off the coast of France,
is the birthplace of the Guernsey cow. About 960 A.D., besieged
by buccaneeres and sea rovers, the Island came to the attention
of Robert Duke of Normandy. He sent a group of militant monks
to educate the natives to cultivate the soil and defend the land.
The monks brought with them the best bloodlines of French cattle
-- Norman Brindles, also known as Alderneys, from the province
of Isigny and the famous Froment du Leon breed from Brittany --
and developed the Guernsey.
Importation to America
Introduction of the Guernsey to America occurred around September 1840, when Captain Belair of the Schooner Pilot brought three Alderney cows to the port of New York. Later, Captain Prince imported two heifers and a bull from the Island. These animals were the original stock of a great majority of the Guernseys that make up the national Guernsey herd today.
With the understanding that positive identification is crucial to preserving the purity of the breed, a group of Guernsey breeders founded the American Guernsey Cattle Club in 1877. Since then, the organization has registered over 3 million Guernseys. Now the American Guernsey Association, the national organization for the registration and promotion of Guernsey cattle, has introduced many other programs for the advancement of the breed.
Making Strides in Genetic Improvement
Genetically, the Guernsey of today is much different than that of 960 A.D. Due to the advent and commericalization of artificial insemination, a process by which a cow is inseminated without ever seeing a bull, a particular bull can sire thousands of offspring. This genetic improvement has been generated by a progressive, aggressive young sire program. Young bulls' semen is distributed throughout the Guernsey population until the bulls have a large enough daughter population that their offspring's qualities are predictable. As proven bulls, these sires may have as many as 1,500 daughters in 400 herds. However, every three